by Mary Girsch-Bock –
With the housing market still struggling to return to pre-2008, the rental market has seen significant increases in the number of people renting homes versus trying to buy again. Perhaps they were burnt by the drop in housing prices, perhaps they lost a home during the downturn. Whatever the reason, the rental market is strong and the forecast is for it to remain so. One of the changes that the rental market has experienced is the increasing number of families that are renting. While families have always been active renters for single family homes, the number of families renting in multi-family apartment properties continues to increase as well.
While property managers are happy to rent to this demographic, renting to families with small children creates some potential liability issues that property managers need to address. Here are some things that you may want consider:
- Put together a safety pamphlet for parents or guardians of small children that highlight some of the dangers that small children may face and how to prevent them.
- Be certain that the property swimming pool and hot tub is locked and completely inaccessible to small children. Swimming pool accidents are one of the leading causes of death of small children in the summer months, and keeping the property pool and hot tub area securely locked at all times will prevent tragic accidents and possible liability.
- If you have a property that rents to a lot of families with small children, you may want to consider putting up warning signs throughout the property. Small children often cannot be seen by drivers backing up, so precautionary signs may make them slow down enough to notice a stray child.
- While holes in fences, exposed wiring, or downed tree limbs or other landscaping hazards should never be tolerated, they pose an extra hazard to a curious child. Be vigilant about repairs.
- If you have a playground, it might be helpful to invest in new playground equipment that is heat resistant and provides a soft landing for little bodies. Warning signs about possible playground hazards are also a requirement.
While property managers will happily continue to rent to families with small children, it’s important that property managers are vigilant about eliminating possible threats to small children. While parents and guardians are ultimately responsible for their child’s safety,it’s best for everyone involved to make your property safe for all of your tenants; even the smallest ones.