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Loss Control & Risk Management

How to Keep Your Tenants Safe

When you own or manage a multi-family dwelling, your priority is to keep your tenants safe. Whether it’s making sure sidewalks are shoveled, fire detectors are working or all mechanics are in proper order, the list of items to check on regularly can be a bit overwhelming. Use the list below as a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and seasonal checklist to ensure the safety of your tenants.

Daily Checklist

  • Inspect the building and property to maintain cleanliness and housekeeping.
  • Instruct tenants not to store personal belongings on or around stairways to keep exits clear in case of an emergency.

Weekly Checklist

  • Test the fire alarm manual pull box stations to ensure they are operable.
  • Ensure all garbage is placed in a dumpster. Ideally dumpsters are kept in a room with an emergency sprinkler system.
  • Vacuum the back of clothes dryers to eliminate lint build-up. Make sure lint screens are not clogged or lint traps are not blocked.
  • Instruct tenants that flammable liquids are not allowed in storage areas.
  • Make sure extension cords are not permanently used for electrical appliances.
  • Make sure gutters remain directed away from walking surfaces.
  • Make sure no carpeting or other flooring throughout common areas is damaged to prevent slips and falls.
  • Check and repair loose or damaged stair rails.
  • Monitor water heater temperature. To prevent scalding, it should be set no greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Check exterior and interior lighting and replace fixtures and bulbs when necessary.
  • Check building walls, windows and doors for damage or vandalism.
  • Ensure all security locks and cameras are working properly and repair if needed.

Monthly Checklist

  • Inspect sidewalk and parking lot and repair any holes or cracks.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Instruct tenants on proper use and maintenance.
  • Test fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, manual pull stations, elevators and emergency lighting.
  • Test the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) and provide GFCI protection for any electrical outlets within six feet of water sources.
  • Discuss emergency evacuation procedures with tenants, including safe exit from the building.
  • Check that all fire doors are self-closing and have at least a one hour fire rating.
  • Ensure all combustible materials, such as cardboard boxes, paper products and clothes are at least three feet away from gas operated water heaters, space heaters and furnaces.

Yearly Checklist

  • Replace smoke detector batteries.
  • Contact an outside service company to inspect and maintain the sprinkler system.
  • Contact a licensed contractor to inspect the boiler and/or HVAC equipment.
  • Hire a certified “chimney sweep” to clean fireplace chimneys to prevent the build-up of creosote. Instruct tenants to not burn paper products in fireplaces.
  • Review the condition of the roof. Perform repairs on roof, gutters and downspouts as needed.
  • Ensure all electrical wiring is up to code and replace and repair when needed.
  • Inspect the elevator to ensure the threshold is even with the floor and contact a professional when repairs are needed. Post a sign outside the elevator that says “In Case of Emergency Use Stairwell.” Check to make sure the telephone system in the elevator is operable.

Seasonal Checklist

  • Designate a flat non-combustible surface, such as a concrete patio, for tenant grilling. Grilling areas should not be within 15 feet of buildings and trees.
  • Control weed and grass growth.
  • Remove snow from sidewalks and walkways after every snowfall. Sand/salt as necessary. Document all of this in a log.

Carbon Monoxide Precautions

Exposure to carbon monoxide is extremely harmful to your health and can even be deadly. It is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your tenants from carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure each unit is equipped with at least one carbon monoxide detector and that batteries are replaced at least once per year. You should also install at least one detector on each floor in common areas, such as hallways and stairways. Make sure your tenants understand that tampering with or disconnecting a carbon monoxide detector is punishable by law.

This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available. This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. You should contact an attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

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Related Topics: Protecting Your Business , Safety Programs , Residential Property