As a landlord, you know that federal law prohibits you from discriminating against tenants when leasing your property –– that includes discriminating against families with young children, per the Fair Housing Act of 1968. You may not know that there are required safeguards for renting that you must provide to families with young children who rent from you. It’s recommended that a landlord put in place reasonable rules that are aimed at protecting children’s health and safety.
Here, we focus on New York law. While the statutes differ by state, so as always you should check your local and state laws. However, it’s safe to assume that these are all best practices for renting out your property to a family with young kids, no matter where you live.
Window Guards – New York City
Specific to apartment buildings with three or more units, New York City law requires that building owners install window guards if a child under the age of 10 lives there, or if the lessee requests them for any reason. While private homes are not legally required to have window guards, it is recommended as best practice wherever there are young children –– particularly on second-story windows and above.
Window guards are especially crucial during the warmer months, as windows are gloriously thrown open to enjoy the breeze. As tenants spend more time at home during the COVID crisis, the risk of a window fall has arguably never been higher.
A sobering statistic: in 2019 in New York City alone, there were 11 falls among children ten years or younger, resulting in four deaths, after falling from a window that did not have a properly installed window guard.
Stove Knob Covers – New York State
New York local law 117 requires that the property owner of multiple dwellings provide stove knob covers for gas stoves if the owner knows or reasonably should know that a child under six years old lives in the home. Stove knob covers are an essential fire prevention tool that makes knobs on gas stoves inaccessible to children, protecting the children, their family, and your property from a potential catastrophe.
Lead Paint – Houses built before 1978
While this may seem like an obvious issue to remedy, it’s crucial and cannot be left off the list. Dust from lead paint is the most commonly identified source of childhood lead poisoning, and there may be lead paint in your rental properties without your knowledge. This is important to address no matter the age of the tenants, but imperative to fix with children in the property.
If you own a property built before 1978, lead paint can be present. In New York City, as required safeguards for renting, you must send an annual notice to tenants each January to ascertain if a child under five lives there or spends over 10 hours per week in the property and inspect those units for lead paint hazards.
Additionally, tenants can and should report if there is chipping or peeling paint within the property, and you must address it using lead-safe work practices with lead trained workers. This is underscored by the Federal Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule that took effect in 2010, requiring that EPA-certified professional workers exclusively perform any work disturbing lead paint.