With a baby in the house, everything suddenly becomes a lot more challenging. Suddenly the stairs are a hazard, corners look too sharp and cupboard doors could trap little fingers. For new parents, baby-proofing their home is a necessity, however this could pose a few problems if you are a tenant. Drilling or hammering nails into any of your walls will require the permission of your landlord and it is important to go about things the right way if you don’t want to have problems at the end of your tenancy.
You may have already discussed the possibility of having children with your existing landlord and this will have prepared them for the inevitable questions about baby-proofing. On the other hand, if you are renting a new property, you should broach the subject of installing baby-safe features such as a stairgate at your initial meeting with the letting agent or landlord. You may also want to view new properties with a small child in mind and look for any potential hazards that will either require modifications or that cannot be resolved. If there are obvious safety issues with a property that you are viewing it would be wise to look elsewhere. If you speak to your estate agent or letting agent about your requirements they may be able to point you in the direction of a property which has already been modified for child safety.
Stairgates may be the biggest problem as some landlords are reluctant to allow tenants to screw into woodwork, drywall or plaster. Although pressure mounted gates are an option that requires no screws, they are not safe for use at the top of a staircase as a child may be able to apply enough pressure to enable them open the gate. You may be able to persuade your landlord to allow you to fit a wall-mounted gate if you put in writing how you will rectify any damage before leaving the property at the end of your tenancy. Most landlords will be prepared to come to some sort of compromise when it comes to child security and any other property safety considerations.
Another element of your home which may require some modification is the protection of the contents of your kitchen and bathroom cabinets from little hands. In the first instance, you should move anything which may cause a hazard, such as very heavy items or poisonous cleaning materials or medications out of lower shelves, drawers and cabinets and put them out of reach in high cupboards. You should also consider installing a lock on any accessible floor-level cupboards and your fridge to avoid small children from accessing them. You should not require any permissions from your landlord to do this as these fittings require no screws and will cause no damage to any of your property’s surfaces as they simply use adhesive or magnetic strips.
Blind cords may also represent a hazard for small children who may become entangled in them and choke. If your landlord will not allow you to pin these up out of reach because of potential damage to the walls, you could tie them into a knot so that they do not hang within easy reach and therefore pose no risk.
The majority of landlords will be happy to allow tenants to make reasonable simple modifications in order to ensure their infant’s safety, although you may need to demonstrate your willingness to repair any holes that you make in the property’s walls and to ensure that the home is in the same state as which you found it when you finally leave the tenancy.