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With many downward pressures on not just investment property owners, but the broader community at large, investors may be looking for ways to ‘save’ rather than increase the value of their assets.
As an example, in Australian homes each year 350 children are killed by accidents; over 150,000 children visit hospital emergency rooms; 38,000 children visit hospitals with crushes or glass cuts; over 5,000 children are hospitalized due to falls in their home; 30 children drown at home; 1,500 children are hospitalized following finger jams (many resulting in amputation).
Granted not all of these are in rental properties, and investors should be aware of these statistics to ensure properties are safe and secure. In addition, as the owner of one or more investment properties, can you honestly say that you have done all your can to ‘childproof’ your property?
From toddlers choking on blind cords, fencing or gates that allow small children access to busy streets or pools with unsatisfactory locking mechanisms, there are sadly too many ways that children can get into trouble, with little to no time required to do so.
As an investment property owner, there are several key things to consider. Firstly, if your property is found to be non-compliant, or not ‘fit for purpose’ you may indeed be held accountable and liable for the injury or death. There are a wide range of reasons why it makes good financial sense to ensure your house is ‘childproof’.
Why is it important to ensure your property is safe for tenants?
By having an expert or your rental agent working with local tradespeople or risk management companies to reduce all potential – and foreseeable – hazard, you are taking your ‘duty of care’ seriously, and will absolve yourself in large part of responsibilities if you have taken reasonable steps to reduce the risks in your home.
With renting families, from all socio-economic backgrounds, knowing that the home is kid-safe is reason alone that your property may be tenanted sooner than the next one. This provides you with a more steady income and a greater return on your investment.
Thirdly, you will find that unless circumstances change for your tenants, they will likely want to provide their family with security and home for longer periods of time. Thus, you will as an investor enjoy longer-term tenants, saving you money in rental advertising and rental downtimes.
Potential risks in rental properties
Potential risks to consider are blinds or curtains with cords, windows at height – where small children could fall, fences & gates, pools or water features – remembering it only takes an inch or so of water for a child to be able to down, cupboards in the kitchen or laundry without locking mechanisms, unstable trees or retaining walls. As well as these balconies that are poorly maintained are also something to consider.
Childproofing your home makes smart financial sense. You can claim the upgrades on your tax, while also charging tenants more rent. Meanwhile, you can expect them to be happier and stay for longer in your property.
There is a wide array of risk management providers or recommended tradespeople through your property manager that can assist you in being more proactive and aware of the dangers at your investment home. Just remember, you don’t want to see your property on the news for all the wrong reasons.