Finding the right home when you have children can be difficult, often resulting in months of frustrated searching until you find the perfect rental property that provides the safety and security your kids need.
What if you need your place to be baby-proofed because you’ve got a curious toddler running around? What kind of safety features should you be on the lookout for in communal spaces, such as swimming pools? Does the landlord have any responsibility to upgrade his or her property to suit your family’s needs?
Let’s take a look!
Landlords cannot deny you a rental because you have a child or refuse to allow you to baby-proof your rental property. While some landlords may not want you to alter the property out of concern for future tenants, this is not a legal option on their part.
Many landlords do not allow pets for perfectly understandable reasons, but the same cannot be said for a child. In the event you are denied or evicted for this reason, as a parent, you have the right to take legal action.
Now that you’ve found the perfect place to live, it’s time to work on making it safe for your child. Many landlords will leave the baby proofing to the parents because they should know the proper safety measures to be taken.
If the landlord insists on baby-proofing for you, make sure they properly follow the checklist for a safe apartment. Here are a few elements you should consider to ensure your family is safe and protected. These are essential aspects that most parents would require for their child’s safety when looking for an apartment or other types of rentals:
Apply cabinet locks
Most children learn how to open a cabinet door as soon as they can crawl. By adding a lock to lower cabinet doors, children can be protected from many hazards.
An unlocked cabinet could mean hurt or trapped children, since they could open the cabinet door and have it close back on them, hurting their fingers or other body parts. Children could also climb into the cabinet and — assuming they avoid injuries — close the door behind them. This carries the risk of suffocation and further damage to the child. There are also lots of dangerous chemicals looming beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, which can cause severe harm to your child if swallowed.
Eliminate cords on blinds
Window blinds can be a hazard, similar to cabinet doors. If the cord hangs close enough to the floor, a child could get it wrapped around a part of their body, causing circulation to be cut off in hands, fingers, and more. Additionally, if the cord is long enough, it could wrap around the child’s head or neck.
Blind cords are an extreme danger to children. It is best to replace the blinds with cordless ones or invest in curtains instead, to avoid this potential incident entirely.
Check for fencing around the yard and pool
If the rental you’re interested in has a pool on the property, make sure there’s a fence around it. While this is best practice for any property owner who installs a pool, some landlords are behind on the times, meaning you need to proactively be on the lookout for these types of safety features before you sign a lease. If the pool doesn’t currently have a fence, it’s unlikely the landlord will be willing to install one at your request; in this case, it’s in your best interest to keep looking.
The same can be said for yards and communal spaces. A yard without a fence could prove dangerous, as anyone (or anything) could come in at any time. Fences help deter animals and strangers from coming onto the property, and they keep your children safe within the confines of a protected area.
Cover electrical outlets
Have you checked to see if the rental has outlets near the floor that a crawling toddler could reach? Chances are they’re there, so you may want to put covers over them before you move in or ask your landlord to do so before you sign the lease.
Open electrical outlets appeal to curious children. Your child can crawl to the outlet, stick his or her finger in, and risk electrocution. That’s why it’s important to protect your little ones. This may sound strange, but it’s helpful to get on your hands and knees and view the property from your child’s point of view. You might be surprised at the number of outlets you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
Install baby gates
Does your rental have a second floor? If that is the case, it’s best to consider adding baby gates to the top and bottom of each staircase before you and your family move in. Once kids begin to crawl, they’re more susceptible to accidents and injuries; it’s very easy for a child to tumble down the stairs and get severely injured if left unsupervised.
Other safety considerations
Some of the above safety measures may seem obvious, but there are often some things that many parents overlook. For example, toddlers have a habit of grabbing furniture and pulling themselves onto their feet when they start walking. It’s an exciting time for them, and they don’t have any concept of gravity. Sure, a couch isn’t likely to tumble down on them if they grab it, but what about an end table? To prevent furniture from being pulled over, secure it with anchors and brackets.
The kitchen is another place that’s filled with hazards. Make sure your new home has a stove guard, so the burners aren’t exposed. This keeps little fingers away from dangerous heat and prevents hot pots and pans from being pulled off the stove.
When you’re searching for the perfect rental property, you want the best for your family. Bear in mind that when you rent in a multi-family building, these details are usually taken care of by a property manager. Property managers are there to make sure you have what you need to keep you and your children safe, comfortable, and protected.