If you are a landlord with a buy-to-let property, it’s not wise to solely rely on your tenants when baby-proofing your buy-to-let . You have a responsibility too to ensure that you provide a safe and sound property for tenants of all ages to enjoy.
With this in mind, there are a few things that you may want to consider when it comes to baby-proofing. Here are a few top tips to ensure that safety is top of your priority list…
Security when baby-proofing your buy-to-let
First and foremost, and a pretty simple one is ensuring that the property is safe and secure. This will be important for tenants with both children and pets. Start by thinking about the back garden. Is the fence sturdy and sound? Ensure there are no gaps or unstable areas.
If the front of the property is not gated and fenced off, consider adding this in as a safety feature. Curious little ones may fancy a wander out of the front door, but a solid fence will prevent them from going anywhere unsafe.
In terms of security, perhaps look at installing a smart security system. There are plenty of affordable options on the market at the moment, such as Nest. You should also ensure that the property is kitted out with some outdoor lights. A well-lit space, coupled with a security camera, will discourage crime and intruders, putting parents’ minds at ease.
This may seem like an obvious point to make, but ensure that the electricals in your property are safe. By law, you are required to have the electrical installations in your property inspected and tested by a qualified and competent professional at least every five years.
Alongside this, ensure that the electrical sockets in your property are up to modern safety standards. Crawling babies are in danger of putting their fingers into sockets, so you could add plastic socket protectors to help avoid any accidents. Plastic socket protectors are not fool-proof – young children can remove them fairly easily if they know how to, but it may be enough to put your tenant’s mind at ease.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
By law in England, a landlord is required to provide a smoke alarm on each storey on a property and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a coal fire or wood-burning stove. However, it is always a good idea to install CO alarms as best practice, even if the property does not have these features, as carbon monoxide is a serious silent killer.
Remember – installing a carbon monoxide alarm is not a replacement for regular maintenance and safety checks by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You must arrange annual gas safety checks every 12 months.
You may have heard horror stories of children and blind cords. Unfortunately, blind cords carry a real risk to babies and small children as they can injure or strangle themselves on looped cords and chains. For this reason, all blinds need to pass safety standards.
With this in mind, all good quality blinds should be safe to be installed around children, however, you could give your tenants extra peace of mind by adding blind cord wraps to any blinds so that cords can be tucked well away from prying hands.
Windows can be a real worry for parents. They pose both a fall risk and the possibility of little fingers getting trapped. Baby-proof your windows by installing restrictors that stop windows from opening far enough for a child to fall out. These don’t usually require any drilling.
You could even go one step further with window guards. They don’t look great, giving the look of a prison cell. You could perhaps give your tenant the option of whether they would appreciate this extra layer of safety. You could also ensure that your windows are lockable. That way, there’s no risk of children messing around with and opening windows when they shouldn’t be.
Think practical when baby-proofing your buy-to-let
Technically not a safety feature, but it’s important to consider children when you are picking out the floors and paint in your buy-to-let. You need to ensure a property is suitable for a family if that’s your target tenant market. You might think that kitting out downstairs with carpets is a good idea, but whilst it does act as a nice soft surface to cushion any tumbles and falls, they also lend themselves to lots of stains and mess. They also trap bad odours.
Opt for hard flooring instead. Something like vinyl flooring still has a slight cushioned effect, particularly compared to tiles or laminate. Hard flooring wipes clean and is easier to maintain, and your tenants can also put down soft rugs to create space for children to toddle.
As for the walls, consider using washable paint. It withstands much more wear and tear and can be scrubbed clean in the event of coming into contact with dirty hands, food and crayons. A load off everyone’s minds.
Remember to compare landlord insurance to ensure that you have the right cover in case accidents and damage do happen. The more features you provide your tenants with, the more responsibility they have to look after these things too.
Landlord tips for baby-proofing your buy-to-let is a feature post