Published on: Friday, April 1, 2016 Takoma Park Newsletter

Keeping tenants safe

A primary focus of a rental housing inspection is to look for life safety code violations. Some of the basic requirements that all living spaces should have include hot water, heat, cooking facilities and sanitary facilities.

Fire safety is a major concern. Smoke alarms must be on the ceiling of every level of your home and both inside and outside bedrooms. Being able to escape in case of a fire is vital, so all bedrooms must have an outside window or exterior door for egress. Egress windows may not have bars unless they are breakaway bars approved by the Montgomery County Fire Marshall. In basement bedrooms, a code conforming window well may be required if the window is not large enough for a tenant to escape or a firefighter to enter.

Doors to the outside may not have keyed locks on the inside and must be openable with a thumb latch. There must be a safe, clear path to the outside door or to a required egress window. This means no trip hazards in a unit. Additionally, all stairways must have handrails. Nothing should be stored near a furnace or water heater. Electrical fixtures should be installed properly, outlets and switches should be property covered (not cracked, arcing or sparking), and there should not be any extension cords or cable wires running through doorways or windows.

Although this list is not all inclusive, this covers the basic safety housing requirements to ensure everyone has a safe place to live.