The ac­ci­den­tal land­lord

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Letting On -

AF­TER years of let­ting to stu­dents, young pro­fes­sion­als and child­free cou­ples, I’m quite ner­vous about let­ting to a fam­ily with two small chil­dren. This toddler and his in­fant sis­ter might look in­no­cent with their big brown eyes and adorable smiles, but they can’t fool me. I’m a mum and I know how de­struc­tive chil­dren can be.

As their mother proudly in­tro­duces me to her two bun­dles of joy, all I can see are four sticky hands that are go­ing to smear gunk all over the walls of my flat, and four lit­tle feet that will tread mashed ba­nana and Play-Doh into the car­pets.

How­ever, it’s not the mess they are bound to make that’s re­ally both­er­ing me. What wor­ries me most is that these two lit­tle kids might sus­tain an in­jury in my flat, which wasn’t re­ally de­signed with fam­i­lies in mind.

It’s a long time since my own chil­dren were small, so I can’t re­mem­ber ex­actly what you need to do to child­proof a home. As a par­ent, I didn’t rely on safety de­vices such as stair gates and socket cov­ers, pre­fer­ring in­stead to train my brood not to throw them­selves head­first down the stairs or poke their fin­gers into elec­tri­cal sock­ets. But as a land­lord, I am re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing sure the prop­erty is safe for all oc­cu­pants, in­clud­ing chil­dren.

So be­fore the fam­ily ar­rives, I walk through the flat look­ing for po­ten­tial haz­ards. All the win­dows are high and they all have locks, so no wor­ries there, and the only glass door is safety glass, so should with­stand a flung rat­tle or plas­tic toy, or a child slam­ming into it.

How­ever, I no­tice for the first time that the Vene­tian blinds cov­er­ing all of the win­dows have cords that dan­gle to the floor. I won­der if these are a haz­ard, and when I Google “are blinds dan­ger­ous” I dis­cover that yes, they are po­ten­tially deadly, as small chil­dren can get the cords tan­gled

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