Landlords and Rental Owners: Tips for Halloween
October 31, 2013
By Tracey March
Halloween is here. Dashing out to buy candy for trick-or-treaters might be on your to-do list, but if you’re a landlord or rental owner, there may be some other errands you should add. While it’s fun to think of Halloween as a great family holiday, replete with pumpkins, sweets, fun and creepy costumes, and cute little kids knocking to your door, as a landlord you should also be thinking about – brace yourself—liability. Bwah, hah, hah, haaaahhhhh.
So, with liability in mind, here are a few reminders and safety tips to help ensure that Halloween stays a fun holiday and not a nightmare for you, your tenants, and those delightful trick-or-treaters who will egg your rental if they don’t get candy.
- Make sure ghosts, witches, and other assorted trick-or-treaters don’t have to negotiate an obstacle course to get to your rental property and the candy your tenants have bought to give, bribe, or placate them. Maximizing the candy bounty is serious business, and if you make the process more efficient, trick-or-treaters will appreciate it and be less inclined to engage in mayhem.
- Although real blood on Halloween seems more authentic, the fake stuff is good enough and much less stressful for everyone, especially since landlords can be liable for injuries to visitors to their rental property. To avoid real blood, clear common areas, paths, walkways, and driveways of any items that could trip up an excited trick-or-treater running to a front door. Mark holes/cracks in sidewalk clearly. And remember that younger trick-or-treaters, whether fueled or lured by candy, may run across your rental’s lawn, so clear that too and fill in any holes.
- Assume that most people venturing out on Halloween aren’t wearing night vision goggles. Make sure the walkways at your rental property are well-lit. This will upset and possibly blind the trick-or-treaters with night vision goggles, but you can’t please everyone.
- Ask tenants to use glow-sticks instead of candles in their porch jack o’ lanterns. Bonfires are cool and fun and all that, but not when they’re consuming your rental property.
- Halloween costumes can really freak dogs out, and scared dogs are scary and they can bite. If you allow your tenants to have dogs, remind them that on Halloween, it’s a good idea to restrain them. No one wants to be on any side of a dog bite situation. This is also a good time to remind landlords that if you know your tenant’s dog is vicious, in some states you could be liable if that dog bites someone on your property. You might want to do something about that.
- Make sure railings are secure. Much like real blood, face plant injuries and twisted limbs from a railing fall are more authentic. But they’re also horrible.
- If you have a vacant property, check it during the day to make sure it’s locked up. Besides being awesome places to set up meth labs, vacant rentals are also easy targets for toilet papering and egging. Leave the porch light off to let trick-or-treaters know that no one is home. Ask neighbors to let you know if they see anything suspicious.
- If you have a rule that tenants can’t use candles in their rental homes, remind them. Because not all tenants follow candle rules, check that your smoke alarms were recently tested (this is a good rule to have in place all the time). If there is a fire you might be tempted to say “I told you so” and maybe some other stuff, but you’d also prefer it if your (albeit) irresponsible tenants get out of the house alive, and a working smoke alarm will help achieve that goal. Plus it’s the law.
- Halloween is a good time to check in with your insurance agent to make sure you have good liability insurance. Ask about your coverage limits and if you haven’t done so already, set up auto-pay.
Do you have any tips for a safe, happy Halloween?