As a landlord, you have plenty of responsibilities from the condition of your rental property to following all local, state, and federal laws. The safety of the property and, ultimately your tenants, should be one of your top concerns. Not only do you lose money and good tenants when you don’t take care of a property, you can also be found liable for the problems that occur.
In our continuing series on landlord responsibilities, it’s time to talk about outdoor living spaces like patios, decks, porches, and balconies. When these spaces are neglected, people get hurt.
Your Tenants’ Responsibilities
Like every other part of your rental, your tenants have some responsibility to the property and its care while they live there. Your expectations should be made clear in their lease, and you should make sure they understand what the rules are when they move in. In the case of decks, porches, patios, or balconies, you can set some rules for tenants to follow.
Outdoor furniture should be appropriate for the space. No living room couches or tables should be used outside. If wet or infested furniture is brought in and out of the house, the interior of the rental can be infested or damaged.
Tenants must follow proper grill safety. One specific rule you can include is to keep a grill at least 10 to 15 feet away from the exterior of the property at all times. This can reduce the risk of fire damage. You also have the option to not allow grills of any type.
Problems should be reported immediately. If they notice loose railing or broken blocks, they should contact you as soon as possible. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists.
It’s not enough for your tenants to follow the lease and do their part to keep the property safe, especially on a patio or balcony. You must do you part and stay proactive. People can fall and hurt themselves, balconies can collapse, and multiple other problems can happen that injure people. You don’t want anyone to get hurt, and you don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit, either.
- Inspect decks, porches, patios, and balconies at least once a year. You may want to hire a professional inspector to look for structural problems for you.
- Repair problems as you discover them. Do not put off any maintenance that might get worse or lead to injury.
- Don’t “patch” a problem. Fix it.
- Replace old decking and balconies at least every 15 years, which is the average lifespan of a deck.
- Make sure your deck, patio, porch, or balcony are up to code. This is important to find out when you first buy a property to rent. When you replace the decking, work with a licensed contractor to make sure the new structure is built to code.
- Know the structural limits of a deck or balcony. If a balcony can only safely hold so many people or so much weight, let your tenants know. Post signs if necessary.
- Use the right materials for repairs or replacements. Cheaper isn’t better. When decks or balconies collapse, people get hurt.
No one becomes a landlord because they love taking calls for repairs or problems from tenants. You’re trying to make an income. Don’t let unintentional neglect ruin your rental property, cause people to get hurt, or be the reason you’re in a courtroom with an expensive attorney. Take care of the decks, patios, porches, and balconies on your property.
Hate the hassle of keeping up with necessary repairs? Would you rather have expert help with the lease and yearly inspections? Work with a property management team that takes your property’s maintenance and your tenant’s safety as seriously as you do. Here at ERA American Real Estate, we can make sure your lease is consistent, you’ve got qualified tenants, and your property is taken care of. Give us a call today.