Managing a Child-Safe Property: Attract Families to Your Rentals
Attract renters by ensuring your properties are kid-friendly and child-safe!
Property owners know, every apartment must be safe for every age (and the Fair Housing Act protects all families who wish to rent). Rather than looking at child-safety as another task on your to-do list, savvy landlords know that appealing to families is important. Families with kids are often stable, responsible renters—here’s how to create a child-safe property to attract great tenants.
How to Draw Families to a Rental Property
Any number of factors could bring families with children to your property: affordability, proximity to schools and urban areas that appeal to young professional parents. Many families view apartment rental as their starter-home and with busy lives, some parents prefer the option of renting over the obligations of home ownership. Typically, family-friendly spaces offer units with multiple bedrooms, green space and amenities that appeal to children.
If your building features smaller units—studio and single bedroom spaces—you should still aim to make your property as welcoming as possible to families and parents of youngsters. Although smaller spaces often appeal to college students, single professionals and older retirees, it’s important your space is welcoming to all tenants regardless of age. Grandparents, single parents and small families will all bring kids to the building.
Child-friendly rentals should be embraced, not simply for legal reasons (it’s illegal to discriminate against families or renters with children, and landlords are liable for failing to protect kids with child-safe property practices). Families are often stable, responsible renters, who hold down jobs to put food on their table. Most parents see the perfect place as a safe, welcoming space that’s close to good schools and playgrounds. If your building fits the bill, expect fewer vacancies, happier renters and less turnover.
What Makes A Property Child-Safe?
There are many ways a landlord or building owner can assure the property is safe for all residents including children. Here are a few of the most important considerations:
Security is top priority for any building. Ensuring your units are fitted with working, updated locks, properly fastened windows and well-lit shared spaces with motion-detecting lights will go far in deterring criminals. To check criminal activity in any neighborhood visit a site like Neighborhood Scout, or join the Nextdoor chapter for each of your properties. This will help you keep tabs on what’s going on near your buildings and stay aware of concerns.
Appeal to renters by highlighting any safety features your building offers like a doorman, security personnel, alarms or cameras. Encourage residents to watch out for each other and report any suspicious activity. A clean, well-maintained, well-lit building with diligent neighbors will boost the safety and security of the entire neighborhood.
Inspected, Well-Kept Property & Grounds
Regular inspections of the landscaping and parking lot areas will help reduce injuries children could incur from playing on the property. Fallen branches, potholes, or severely cracked sidewalks are dangerous to all residents (and especially kids at play).
Spruce up green spaces and include kid-friendly features like play and picnic areas. Kids play areas should include fencing and gates. Encourage slow driving in your parking lot with “Child Zone” signs, to urge visiting drivers and other residents to slow down.
No Toxic Paint or Hazards
Older buildings may need to check for lead paint and piping. Lead paint was banned in 1978 and lead solder was used in pipes through 1986. Unfortunately, overtime the breakdown of lead will cause it to become even more of a threat. Older paint on trim, doors and under layers of new paint on your walls can get chipped off by kids and toddlers. Lead paint often has a telltale “alligator skin” cracking pattern, but if you suspect lead a simple testing kit will confirm.
Building owners are responsible for the safe-removal of lead paint and hazards. If you need to update your building, consult with Lead-Safe Certified Contractor especially if you plan renovations while your building is occupied. Dust and debris from lead removal is as toxic as the lead itself.
Windows, balconies and high-areas present a huge hazard for your children. All balconies and guardrails should be up to code and free of any faulty materials. Railings in older buildings may become loose and rickety. Spend time securing all banisters, balconies and balustrades so children can’t slip through and fall.
Windows should close properly, and you may wish to install window guards in upper units. These grate-like coverings protect children from breaking through the screen and falling. Another hazard are cords on mini-blinds—common window treatments in many rental units. The cord from blinds can slip around a baby’s neck, present a choking hazard or catch fingers and toes. Older mini-blinds are easily adjusted so they no longer contain looped string (newer versions are often free of the loop design).
Fire & Carbon Monoxide Protection
Apartment fires are every resident and building owner’s worst nightmare. It’s important to provide residents with proper fire safety instructions and protection. Detector regulations and requirements vary from state to state, but in building owners are responsible for installing working detectors (at least one per unit). Check your state regulations for additional requirements.
Carbon Monoxide detectors are another important feature for apartment buildings. Detectors are inexpensive to install but provide you and residents with protection and peace of mind. Consider installing extra detectors, implementing a fire safety plan and offering additional working fire extinguishers to protect your tenants and building. A child-safe property is safer for everyone.
A pool is a wonderful feature for apartment buildings and offers a huge appeal to potential renters. If your building features this great amenity, pool safety should be your number one child-safe property concern. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4 and as a building owner you’re responsible for ensuring protection is in place, should your building feature a pool.
Take precautions so everyone can enjoy the pool without worry. This includes a reliable fence or barrier surrounding the pool and deck, as well as adequate locks on any entrances. Life preservers, first aid kits, and even an on-duty lifeguard during pool hours will also ensure the safety of children and other occupants. Clearly post rules in pool areas and management personnel should follow all pool safety regulations.
Additional Safety Features to Attract Families
If you want to draw in stable and reliable renters, appealing to families is important. Offering minimal safety requirements will protect you from liability and catastrophe but there are plenty of additional child-safe property amenities and considerations to boost your building’s kid-friendly appeal.
Coverings for Radiators and Heat Pipes
If your building features radiator heating and heat pipes, these may be dangerous for young children who don’t know to avoid these hot areas. While parents are responsible for covering and protecting their child from playing near these areas within their apartment, you as the building owner can give them ideas on how to do that. Allow them to install a simple radiator coverup, or cover heat pipes with pipe-wrap. Suggesting ideal materials for covering the pipe will prevent DIY disasters and melted “hacks” they may come up with on their own.
Baby Gates & Safety Equipment
Not all door frames are baby gate-friendly. If your units feature wide doors, parents may need to pad the gates by including wooden blocks on the doorframe. Landlords and building managers can encourage and support parents by allowing leeway with the installation of safety-friendly equipment, anchoring bookshelves and furniture to walls and drilling into cupboards to install safety latches. While these precautions may leave behind a mark, many are easily patched for the next tenant (who may even be another parent and appreciate the child-proofing).
Designated Play Areas
While not all properties feature space for children’s play areas, those with larger open grounds, backyards or recreation centers can provide family-friendly entertainment to keep them out of harm’s way. Sandboxes, designated areas for sports activities, or courtyards with grass are child-friendly and easily marketed as added bonuses for potential renters.
Parents appreciate the accessibility of important services like a hospital, pharmacy, market, library and bus stops. One of the best ways to share this information with potential renters is to offer them a list or include the “Walk Score” of your building. Let potential renters know the nearest stores, restaurants, and popular destinations, as well as schools, parks, playgrounds, police stations and other emergency services that are a short walk away.
Promoting your accessibility shows families their needs are readily addressed at your property. Going above and beyond to provide and highlight this information shows you’re considerate of families, which is a major draw for most renters.
Whether your target tenants are families, college students or retirees, your property should be marketable for all ages and family types. Injuries of any nature could bring trouble for a property owner if safe conditions aren’t provided for tenants and their guests. Taking the necessary steps toward a child-safe property will also go a long way in making the current tenants of your rental units safer as well, and that is definitely of marketable value!