All landlords must comply with habitability laws. Every rental property needs to meet certain standards that deem it safe and livable. As a homeowner, it is important you follow all legal regulations and do what is necessary to create a safe home environment for your tenants.
Laws and Regulations
The California Department of Consumer Affairs outlines what responsibilities fall on landlords:
“When a landlord (property owner) rents an apartment or a house to a tenant (renter), the rented property must be fit to live in. In other words, the rented property must be ‘habitable.’ During the time that the property is being rented, the landlord must do maintenance work and make repairs which are necessary to keep it habitable. However, a landlord is not responsible for repairing damage caused by the tenant, or the tenant’s guests, children, or pets.”
Ways to Produce Safe Rental Properties
Sacramento investors can take several measures to ensure they provide safe living conditions for their tenants.
- Chimney Maintenance – Chimneys need to be inspected and cleaned by a qualified professional on an annual basis. Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires during winter months, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A report issued in December 2017 by the NFPA concluded the top factor contributing to home heating fires was “failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.”
- Fireplace Safety Measures –Make sure your tenants understand how to operate the specific type of fireplace in your rental unit. Wood burning, electric, and gas fireplaces each have certain guidelines. A sturdy screen needs to be in place to stop sparks from flying out of the fireplace as well. Tenants should be advised to remove any flammable materials or belongings within a three-foot radius of heating equipment. Also, the wall switch that controls a gas fireplace should have safety features on it to ensure it cannot be turned on accidentally or manipulated by small children.
- Fire Precautions – All rental units need to have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Sacramento property management companies suggest you replace all alarm batteries regularly, particularly before new tenants move in. You can even consider interconnecting the CO alarms, so they will all sound when one is set off. Also, a fire extinguisher should be provided to tenants.
- Seasonal Maintenance – Homes naturally deteriorate. Proactive maintenance is a way to keep a home in good condition. Watch for electrical hazards. Outlets should not feel warm to the touch. Electrical wiring should not be exposed. Inspect heating and cooling systems. Clean and replace filters. Remove build up on fans. Conduct a chimney sweep and remove any obstructions. It is also wise to show tenants where gas and water shut off valves are located.
- Other Home Features – Providing safe conditions extends beyond fireplaces and smoke alarms. There are numerous additional ways to help tenants feel secure in your rental properties. Sacramento investors can make sure all window and door locks operate properly. Doors with double locks are an added bonus. All exterior lights need to be in working condition. A motion-sensor home security system is a valuable asset as well.
When Between Tenants
You have worked hard to make sure your investment property meets habitability laws. Do not waste all your efforts to safeguard your rental by not maintaining it during a vacancy. Criminals see an empty home as the ideal time to break in. It is important to have your home appear occupied at all times. You can accomplish this by up keeping the exterior of your home, especially the yard and landscaping. Mow the lawn. Trim bushes. Turn on an exterior or porch light. Collect old newspapers and mail that pile up. Do not stop protecting your home between tenants.
A Well-Maintained Home
Habitability laws and regulations do not need to overwhelm you as a homeowner. Preventative and proactive maintenance is a sure way to safeguard your investment property. Remember to:
- Clean and inspect the chimney
- Know how to safely operate the fireplace
- Have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in working condition
- Conduct seasonal maintenance to catch potential safety hazards
- Ensure window and door locks function properly
Have Multiple Rental Properties? Sacramento Property Management Specialists Can Help
The professionals at Real Property Management SAC-METRO understand the rental industry. Not all Sacramento property management companies are created equal. With more than 30 years of experience, our experts know how to effectively manage rental properties. Sacramento investors can trust our experienced team with their investment business. We work hard to increase your bottom line and make you a profitable landlord. We offer a comprehensive list of services and use proven processes to make you successful. You can leave behind those daily duties of being a homeowner when partnering with Real Property Management SAC-METRO. Learn more about our hassle-free leasing cycle and call Real Property Management SAC-METRO today.