Q & A: Babysitting in Rental Property
October 1, 2011
Q: I am a property manager. Can you advise me as what is required if a tenant wants to have a day care pre-school in the rental. What must I do to protect the owner? Where can I go for information?
A: You need to be extremely careful. In lawsuit-happy America, anything that goes awry seems to result in a lawsuit against the person most able to pay, not necessarily the one who was at fault. In this case, it will be the owner of the property, not the tenant.
Accidents are your biggest concern. Houses that care for children need to be retrofitted to avoid them. You would almost need to inspect the house yourself to be sure that there are no accidents waiting to happen. Even then you might not have spotted them all. Check the internet for information about setting up day care and preschools.
You didn’t say what state or city you live in, and even if I knew I probably wouldn’t have the information about what, if any, businesses are allowed in residences and what permits are required. Check with the city attorney or building department. In California, landlords may not prohibit daycare in rental properties, but they certainly can require that the daycare facilities meet code requirements. That protects not just the landlord but also the tenant/daycare provider.
As you implied, your first duty is to the owner, not the tenant. Ask the owner if the tenant’s having a day care business is okay with him or her. If not, no matter what the tenant wants, no deal. If it is okay, then go overboard to see that the owner’s interests and pocketbook are protected. Err on the side of over caution. Remember, even if the owner says it is okay, you are not off the hook; you still need to take the responsibility to see that the house is free from hazards.