Safety and security in rented homes

Safety and security in rented homes
Safety and security in rented homes

One of the things that tenants look for in a quality rental home is the level of safety and security it provides. People with young children, the elderly and women, in particular, are especially safety conscious and this is understandable.

Some of the safety measures you might expect in a rental property are mandatory while others are not necessarily. It comes down to definitions and practicalities.

One of the mandatory safety measures is smoke alarms.

These are required in all dwellings and must be hard-wired to the mains electrical system. They cannot be battery operated unless the installation of a hard-wired system isn’t possible.

The reality is that most owners want to ensure that their properties have good safety and security not simply to comply with the law, but to attract and maintain good tenants.

Where that occurs, lithium battery operated smoke alarms are acceptable. The number of required smoke alarms is determined by the positioning of bedrooms and how many stories the dwelling is. If in doubt about any of this, raise the issue with your property manager.

In July 2015 another mandatory measure will be deadbolts on all external, ground floor doors. Deadbolts are generally those which are key-locked from the outside but latch-locked from the inside. This is the preferred model of the Department of Commerce because in the case of fire or smoke inside the house they are easier to open in an emergency or in darkness.

Until July next year owners are permitted to use other forms of appropriate door locks.

Another mandatory form of security starting mid-next year is porch lights that must be present at the main entry door and operational from inside the dwelling.

When it comes to windows the law provides that they must have reasonable locks or latches that cannot be opened from the outside. This is not prescriptive but comes down to common sense.

If there is a spa or swimming pool in the rental then safety barriers are very important. The type of barrier will depend on when the pool or spa first received local council approval.

Where a safety barrier is considered to not be operating properly the property manager should be contacted immediately. If an owner does not respond to any concerns raised by the tenants in relation to pool and spa safety, tenants should contact their local government authority right away.

The reality is that most owners want to ensure that their properties have good safety and security not simply to comply with the law, but to attract and maintain good tenants.

It’s important therefore that prospective tenants find a dwelling that suits their needs before signing the lease.

Safety and security is in the best interests of both owners and tenants, so existing tenants who feel their current security measures are inadequate may find that their owner is agreeable to modifications if approached in the right manner.

This article was originally published on reiwa.com.

David Airey

David Airey

David Airey is president of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia.

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