There’s no doubt that backyards become the hub for families to enjoy the weather during the warmer months. This space is the perfect area for children and pets to play while the adults relax after a long day at work.
Although backyards add an extra level of entertainment that isn’t often offered in an apartment, there are some additional precautions landlords and families should take to ensure backyard safety. Whether you are a landlord renting to military families or a military family PCSing to a new area, it’s always a good idea to brush up on best practices in keeping your tenants or family safe and secure.
Backyard Safety for Military Landlords
Your responsibility as the landlord is to ensure a safe and secure space for your tenants. This is especially true for properties where military families are bound to spend an ample amount of time outdoors. While setting up a safe backyard, try to imagine everything that could potentially go wrong. From there, you can create a list of security measures to put into place to reduce the risk of tenant injury.
Landlord Liability for Tenant Injury
For the military kids living on your property, the backyard can be a fun outdoor playground or an injury-prone dangerous space. While adults have years of experience in keeping an eye out for dangers, children do not have that same forethought to look out for rotten wood, rusty nails or that buzzing wasp nest under the deck.
Depending on your jurisdiction, landlords can be liable for certain injuries caused by hazardous property conditions that should have been prevented. This is why it is crucial for landlords to address any potential issues before tenants even move in.
In addition to tackling potentially-hazardous aspects of your property, landlords can ensure their landlord liability insurance covers tenant injuries. Make sure you’re fully covered for all possible incidents by speaking to your insurance representative.
Having sensible restrictions written into your lease agreement will add an extra layer of protection if an injury ever does occur on your property. Set the stage for responsible usage of trampolines, pools, grills and patio furniture. This way, if something does happen, you at least have it documented that your expectations were established.
You can even include a rule that tenants must immediately inform you of any changes to the property that could cause injury, such as broken stairs, encroaching pests, etc. Making it clear in your lease agreement that you care about your tenant’s safety will set the tone for the duration of your tenant’s stay.
Does your property come with a pool or do you allow your tenants to have an above-ground pool? A backyard swimming pool is a top selling point to attract military renters. Yet without a protective fence or property railing, this feature can quickly become a death trap.
It’s recommended to install a four-sided, 5-foot high and climb-resistant fence secured with a self-latching or self-closing gate. A strong fence also protects the backyard from stray dogs and strangers wanting to sneak a quick dip. Fence slats should be no wider than four inches apart to keep unattended children from sliding through.
In addition to a fence, you need to make sure that all pool chemicals are stored away. Make sure they are out of the reach of children, stored in a cool and dry area, and are not mixed or combined. Pool chemicals can emit fumes or have dangerous chemical reactions if they are not taken care of properly.
Properly Control Pests
Pesticides may kill those pesky pests like weeds and insects, but the wrong ones may also cause serious health effects, from headaches and nausea to cancer and neurological disorders. Especially for children, pesticides can be highly detrimental and can affect the development of the central nervous system.
Rather than spraying pesticides yourself, consider hiring a professional who knows what they are doing. Certified pesticide applicators will have access to professional-grade chemicals, and they will know just how long tenants have to wait before entering the backyard or property.
Backyard Safety for Military Renters
The backyard is where the whole military family can come together to make memories, from long lazy summer days to dinners at dusk. Although landlords do have a certain level of responsibility to ensure you have a secure backyard, tenants can also take extra security measures. With everyone working together, complete backyard safety can become a reality.
Children should be watched at all times when they play on a trampoline, play set or in a swimming pool. Shockingly, according to the CDC, “More children ages 1-4 die from drowning than any other cause of death.” For adolescents older than four, drowning is the second leading cause of death.
This isn’t stated to discourage you from having a swimming pool or allowing a trampoline. Kids will always want to test boundaries. Whether it’s performing risky stunts on trampolines or running around the edge of the pool when their parents aren’t looking, kids are risk-takers!
By supervising children while they are in the backyard, you can mitigate any potential injuries while still enjoying the luxuries of pools, trampolines and play sets. In addition, informing your landlord of any dangerous aspects of the backyard may alert them to make essential changes or repairs.
Perform Grill and Fire Pit Safety
To prevent grill or rogue pit fires, take the correct precautions before you ignite a flame. Make sure your grill is clean, keep flammable items far away from the grill and check for leaks or breaks before turning on the outdoor appliance.
Never leave an open flame unattended, and always distinguish even warm embers with water before you head indoors for the night. Cutting back any grass or stray tree limbs from a fire pit is also a good way to prevent fire from spreading.
Anyone with children can attest that children flock to open flames. It’s important for parents to always keep an eye on children while cooking on a grill or enjoying the fire pit. Educating children on fire precautions and the importance of not running around a fire pit is also recommended for optimal backyard safety.
UVA and UVB Protection
If you’re furnishing the outdoor patio of your rental, start with adequate sun protection. Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun cause serious damage to your skin, which can lead to skin cancer, sunburns, wrinkles and other skin problems.
The American Skin Association suggests following the shadow rule, which states that if your shadow is short, you need to find shade. This is because the UV rays are strongest at that point of the day when our shadows appear the shortest.
Backyard UV Protection Measures:
- Patio umbrellas: Even some shade from the sun can prevent the burns associated with skin cancer.
- Designated sunscreen: Keep your family safe by forming the habit of spraying on sunscreen right before they enter the backyard area.
- Take breaks: Taking intermittent breaks from the backyard can help you prevent sunburns and assess whether more time outdoors is a good idea.
More Like This: For more ideas on turning your backyard into your favorite space, check out how to make the most of your patio space!
Homeowner Backyard Safety
Although many of the renter backyard safety tips listed above apply to homeowners as well, there are some extra precautions military homeowners can take to extend their backyard safety. As you transform your backyard into a space of entertainment for your friends and family, consider these extra steps to make your fun oasis danger-free.
If your home doesn’t come with a privacy fence, you may want to consider having one installed. Privacy fences keep children and pets corralled in the right area, and they can also deter potential thieves from entering your space. A sturdy fence will keep unsupervised neighborhood children from wandering into your space to play on the play set, trampoline or in the pool.
Cameras and Alarms
Even homes located in the safest areas in the country can benefit from having backyard cameras and an alarm system attached to the back door. In addition to detecting criminal behavior, cameras can help you monitor the activity happening in your backyard. Back door alarms can alert you if a burglar is entering the home or even if a child is heading outdoors to hop in the pool.
Homeowner Liability Insurance
Despite our best efforts, accidents sometimes happen. The medical bills associated with injuries can be quite expensive, and the homeowner is often the one blamed. By purchasing homeowner liability insurance, you are protecting yourself from unpredictable injuries such as slip-and-falls or even dog bites.
Interested in Renting to Military Families?
Do you want to learn more about renting to military families? Do you have a rental property close to a military base?
If you are a property owner wanting to begin renting to military families, AHRN is a great place to start! From listing your property to gaining more insight into the Reasons Landlords Should Rent to Military Tenants, AHRN is dedicated to connecting service members and their families with housing resources.