This week 2 different landlords contacted us with questions about safety equipment in their rental property. One landlord asked if they needed swimming pool safety equipment as their pool was installed prior to the year when building codes required safety equipment on new pools. Another landlord asked if a CO detector was needed with an attached garage, since the home was built prior to them being required by building code.
These are great questions that could interest other landlords in Tampa, so here is another blog.
To get an expert legal opinion we asked our landlord-tenant attorney. He said YES, landlords do need safety equipment in their rental property even if not required by building codes, because:
- Local ordinances supersede the building code. For example, in older homes building code did not require GFCIs in kitchens and bathrooms. But if you rent the property local rental ordinances usually require them.
- Insurance company requirements supersede the building code. For example, insurance companies may require a pool safety fence irrespective of the year built. One insurance company even required us to mark the pool depth on the side of a private swimming pool at a rental house, just like the markings required on a public swimming pool. It was ugly, but you have to have insurance.
- If a tenant was injured on your property, courts may apply higher standards to a landlord in a civil tort than the prevailing building codes.
Of particular concern to our attorney were areas where the lack of safety equipment may contribute to a tenant’s death or severe injury, such as:
- Smoke detectors
- CO detectors if there is gas, wood burning fire or an attached garage
- GFCI in wet areas
- Garage door safety sensors
- Removing double-sided deadbolts. These are deadbolts that are keyed on both sides and they are dangerous because a tenant may not be able to unlock it in an emergency
- Pool safety equipment
My opinion as a landlord and a property manager is YES, you want your tenants to be safe in your rental property. I remember about 20-years ago a rental property we managed burned to the ground and the son of the family renting the home could not be found. The family feared the worst. Eventually they found their son. He had been playing with fire, let it get out of control and ran away as he expected to be in trouble. However, I still remember the awful feeling we had before they found him. You want your tenants to live in a safe home.