Safety Checklist for Houses

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Here at Greenhomes America we tend to address problems homeowners experience, but what about the problems tenants have? Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting a few blogs with topics of interest to tenants.

First up: Safety Checklist for Tenants on Move-In Day

When you move into a new home you have a thousand things on your mind. It might seem that the most important thing to figure out is how you are going to cook dinner without food or cooking utensils, but while you have your landlord or property manager with you take a half an hour to ensure your new home is safe to live in and that you understand how to keep it that way. Here is a quick checklist:

  1. Gas Line. When your landlord walks you through your new home ask which appliances are fired by gas, and where the control/shutoff valve for the house is. Don’t turn the gas off, but make sure you understand how to in the case of an emergency. If you ever shut the gas off don’t try to turn it back on by yourself – call your gas company and have them send a technician to do this for you.
  2. Power Hub. Next, locate the circuit breaker for the house. Learn which breakers correspond to different parts of the property and label them as such. Learn how to shut of the electricity to the entire house. For your safety, shut off individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit breaker.
  3. Water. Locate the shut-off valve where the main water line enters your house (not the street valve). Make sure you can completely turn the valve off. Sometimes this valve is rusted in the open position and if this is the case you should insist that the landlord replace it.
  4. Ventilation. Your new home probably has a number of ventilation fans that you should check are in working order. Likely places to look are in the kitchen and bathrooms. You should also check that major appliances are vented to the outdoors. You might feel a little stupid, but if a vent disappears into the ceiling ask to see the attic to make sure that venting continues to the outdoors. If it doesn’t, request that it be repaired.
  5. Heating System and Hot Water Checks. Ask when the last time a professional checked the heating and hot water systems. If the landlord seems unsure, or if it has been greater than one year since the last check it is not unreasonable to request a check-up by a licensed contractor.  Some places, an annual check on rental property is required by law.  But it’s a good idea everywhere.
  6. Smoke detectors. Check to make sure the batteries in the smoke detectors are still alive. While some jusidictions require carbon monoxide alarms as well, many don’t.  If you don’t have one, ask the landlord.  If he/she’s not willing to install one, get one of your own.
  7. Look for Mold. Keep your eye and nose out for signs of mold and mildew – musty and earthy smells, discoloration and water damage. If you observe these red-flags bring the issue up with your landlord right away.

Once you have these fundamentals taken care of you can move on to worrying about dinner!

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