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Top 5 Ways To Avoid Tenant Maintenance Lawsuits

by Mary Harding

As a landlord it is important to do routine maintenance on your properties in order to keep them in top condition. Landlords are often sued for maintenance and repair claims such as mold in the home or a tenant tripping and falling down the stairs. According to nationwide landlord-tenant law, a landlord has an obligation to maintain their property. This includes keeping the property clean, safe and habitable. In certain cases, a landlord may be liable for injury to tenants. A landlord is held liable if the landlord’s negligence caused the tenant to injure themselves.

These lawsuits are unnecessary and expensive. Here are the top five ways landlords can avoid a tenant maintenance lawsuit.

1) Fire Alarms

It is important that landlords ensure fire and smoke alarms are installed and working properly upon a tenant moving into the property to reduce risks of fires and assure tenant safety. Furthermore, checking smoke detectors periodically throughout the tenancy may be necessary depending on your State and local regulations. Additionally, the U.S. Fire Administration advises that fire alarms be changed every ten years from the date of manufacture, so landlords should consider this as part of their maintenance planning. The majority of states also require the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in private dwellings. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the second most common cause of non-medicinal poisonings death. Landlords must abide by these regulations to keep tenants safe from this potential threat.

2) Banisters and Stairs

Landlords are often sued when tenants fall and injure themselves due to unstable stairs and unsecured banisters. If a tenant can prove that the landlord knew about the potential hazard and did nothing to prevent it, the lawsuit has the potential to be financially devastating to the landlord. In order to prevent this potential injury it is important that landlords are diligent in their property maintenance. Landlords should ensure all banisters are secured tightly to the wall and the stairs in the home are stable and have no holes or weathering in the wood. Additionally, landlords can make sure all stairs and steps have handrails. Having outdoor handrails for stairs and steps reduces a landlord’s liability to a great extent.

3) Doors and locks

Every rental property experiences normal wear and tear so landlords must carefully check each part of the property even if it appears up to par. Checking each door and making sure it opens and closes smoothly and locks correctly should be a part of every maintenance check. These routine checks of locks and doors ensures maximum safety.

4) Fans in the bathrooms

Mold is a common complaint among tenants so landlords will want to make sure rooms have proper ventilation. The moisture and heat that accumulates in bathrooms makes it a perfect environment for mold to grow. To eliminate moisture and prevent mold growth, it is highly recommended that landlords install ventilating exhaust extractor fans in all bathrooms.

5) Electrical wiring

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations makes landlords entirely responsible for the repair and maintenance of the electricity supply. Landlords should regularly perform basic electrical safety checks around the property. Checking for things like exposed wires, power outlets that spark, or tripped fuses in the fuse box is important because these things can become major risks if not brought up to code.

Routine maintenance is a necessity when leasing to tenants. Taking preventative measures and periodically checking in with your properties could save you from a lawsuit that could potentially cost you thousands of dollars.