If you own single family residential rental properties, young families can be an excellent target market for tenants. They’re often looking for a stable place to live and may stick around for a year or two. But with young families come young kids. And it’s in your best interest to let your tenants baby proof the property while living there.
8 Ways to Let Tenants Baby Proof
Many landlords get uncomfortable when talking about the idea of baby proofing a rental unit, but this isn’t something to push back on. Yes, it may put some additional wear and tear on your property, but it’s better than the alternative. (If a young child were to be injured, or worse, on your property, you could face serious liability issues.)
Here are some ways you can let your tenants baby proof your property without causing permanent or unnecessary changes:
1. Baby Gates
Baby gates act as on-demand crowd control for a busy family with young children. As soon as children begin crawling, it’s important to install gates to keep them confined and out of rooms where they could get into trouble.
Baby gates come in a variety of options, which means a renter can find options that are temporary and don’t require installing hardware into door frames or walls.
2. Electrical Outlets
As you may know, babies are curious about everything. They’re just becoming acquainted with the world around them and everything is new and exciting. This includes dangerous parts of the home that are situated at their eye level – like electrical outlets.
When kids first start crawling, they almost always gravitate toward electrical outlets. They want to play with them, which usually means sticking their fingers in and around the different slots and holes. Outlets can be protected by installing cheap plastic inserts. You can get dozens for just a few bucks.
3. Sharp Edges and Corners
You probably don’t realize how many sharp edges are in a house, but examine it through the lens of a toddler and you’ll get clear. From end tables and coffee tables to appliances and countertops, sharp edges are everywhere. To protect kids from being cut or scraped, bumper guards should be installed. Renters may also find it easier to remove certain pieces of furniture for the time-being.
4. Cabinet Locks
Once babies begin crawling, they’ll move around faster than you can say, “Where’d he go?”
“As they begin to pull up they will try to climb on everything,” one mom writes, “and curious toddlers and preschoolers can let themselves into rooms or other areas of the house like near the fireplace that are normally considered off-limits and search drawers for interesting and exciting treasures.”
While there are plenty of cabinet locks that involve screws and hardware, you probably don’t want your renters drilling holes into your cabinetry. Thankfully, there are a variety of no-drill options. This includes:
- Magnetic door locks that stick onto cabinets with a peel-safe adhesive and latch with ease.
- Adhesive cabinet locks that can be placed on the outside of cabinets and toilets to keep little people where they don’t belong (without marring surfaces).
- If cabinets have drawer knobs or bar pulls, sliding cabinet locks can be used to latch doors in place and prevent them from being opened.
Ultimately, your tenant will have to decide what they want to purchase and use. However, giving them a variety of no-drill options will allow them to make a smart decision that keeps their child safe.
5. Heavy Furniture
A few years ago, IKEA had to recall 29 million chest and drawer sets after they were discovered to be a tipping hazard. This was a wakeup call for many parents and began to expose the risk that heavy furniture can be for toddlers and young children.
When children pull on heavy furniture and/or attempt to climb on it, the uneven weight distribution can cause it to tip over on them. This may lead to serious injury or even death. Thankfully, there are straps and anchors your tenants can purchase to secure these pieces to the wall. You should definitely allow your tenants to install them, even if it means you have to go back and patch the walls later on.
6. Chemicals and Cleaning Supplies
Few things can be more dangerous to a child’s health than hazardous chemicals and cleaning supplies. Whether kept on a shelf in the pantry, underneath the sink, or in the garage, these bottles can quickly become poisonous when they end up in the hands/mouth of a toddler.
Encourage your tenants to be mindful of where they keep supplies – ideally relocating them to upper shelves and/or behind locks.
7. Faucets and Appliances
Most child-related burns occur from hot water and ovens. You can do your part to prevent a tenant from being injured by taking precautionary steps.
To prevent water-related burns, dial the home’s water heater back to a normal/safe level. You can also install anti-scald faucets to prevent children from accidentally burning themselves.
As for appliances, always purchase ovens that come with safety locks built in. This is a pretty standard feature these days, but it’s still wise to research options. (Make sure your tenants know that the oven is equipped with a lock and show them how to use it.)
8. Lawn and Outdoor Areas
Baby proofing extends beyond the home’s interior and includes outside areas – like the yard. Be mindful of the products you’re using to treat the lawn. Fertilizer or weed-killing chemicals could prove to be toxic when they end up near a young child. Do your best to avoid using these sorts of treatments.
It’s also important to address issues like steep stairs on the front porch or second-story screened porches that a toddler could fall through. Again, things that are normally not an issue for adults can be life-threatening to a curious toddler.
Green Residential: Houston Property Management
At Green Residential, we believe happy tenants make happy landlords. So while our primary loyalty will always be to you, our client, we take pride in our ability to keep tenants happy. Whether it’s helping them navigate small issues, like baby proofing, or more complicated ones, like signing lease agreements and setting up payments, we’re here to cultivate healthy relationships. Contact us today to learn more!