Environmental pollution is a major concern these days. Tenants—especially families with children—want to know that they’re as protected as possible from the risks of pollution. And these aren’t just health risks, but quality-of-life risks, as well. Light, noise, air, and water pollution all represent major risks to both tenants and property.
As a landlord, you want to do everything you can to offer your residents peace of mind about pollution; you also need a way to differentiate your properties from other rentals in the area. Providing measures to protect tenants from environmental hazards can help you do both. Plus, we all have a responsibility to protect the environment.
Read on to find out how to do just that.
1. Light Pollution
Light pollution—the effect of artificial lighting brightening the night sky—is a common consequence of modern life. Unfortunately, while these lights help us function better at night, they do have consequences for the environment and your tenants.
Light pollution can disrupt the rhythms of both people and wildlife. It can be harder to sleep with a lot of light flooding into your home. Light pollution also washes out the stars—there’s a huge difference between the night sky in even a small suburb and an uninhabited area like a desert. Light pollution also disrupts migration patterns of certain animals and disrupts the flowering patterns of plants.
What can you do? To prevent light pollution from disrupting your tenants’ sleep cycles, you can offer to install blackout curtains. These curtains can keep significant amounts of light out, even during the day. You can also set up motion sensors on outdoor lighting to cut down on your property’s contribution to area light pollution. While many people leave lights on overnight as a crime deterrent, motion sensors ensure the lights come on when needed but won’t cause unnecessary pollution by running all the time.
2. Noise Pollution
Noise pollution is defined as prolonged, elevated noise levels that have the potential to harm people and animals. Some noise pollution, like you’d find on an airport tarmac, in a factory, or at a rock concert, has the potential to be directly physically harmful. Milder noise pollution can occur near major roads, like a busy stretch of interstate, and even this type of low-level, constant background noise can keep tenants awake at night or disrupt daily activities.
Good quality insulation can go a long way towards reducing noise pollution inside a home. You can even opt for installation specifically intended for soundproofing. Another option is installing wall-to-wall carpeting or providing rugs, which help dampen sound. Fences or hedges can help break up the sound waves before they have a chance to reach the home. As an added bonus, both carpeting and fences give you a chance to add some visual flair to your property, so you can kill two birds with one stone.
3. Air Pollution
We’re all familiar with air pollution. Big cities filled with smog, highways filled with gas-guzzling cars, and factories pumping out thick columns of smoke are some of the images that might come to mind. And that’s all valid. There are other things to watch out for, though, that might affect tenants in a more immediate way. Some people consider pollen an air pollutant, for example, and dust can have a similar impact. And if you live in an area prone to wildfires, or where burning yard refuse like leaves and twigs is common, that smoke can also be irritating to tenants.
There are a few things you can do to help your residents deal with air pollution. First, offer air purifiers to residents (or at least encourage them to get one). These won’t help everyone, but they’re a great place to start and can be surprisingly affordable. Next, never allow tenants to smoke in your buildings. Cigarette smoke is notoriously hard to get out of a home, and it can cause irritation for residents for long after the smoker leaves. This is known as thirdhand smoke, or THS. Lastly, make sure exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms are functioning properly.
You can also do your part to help alleviate the problem. Air pollution comes from a wide array of sources, but the burning of fossil fuels for energy is one of the biggest causes. Installing green energy systems or opting for renewable-energy credit plans if your provider offers them are great ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your properties.
4. Water Pollution
Water pollution is the presence of dangerous or foreign substances in water. Pollutants can take the form of chemicals, fertilizers and other agricultural byproducts, sewage, or just garbage like plastic bags and six-pack rings. In the context of rental properties, the main type of water pollution we’re concerned with is contaminated tap water, which can be used for bathing, washing dishes, cooking, and—most importantly—drinking. Contaminated water can cause a number of serious health problems.
To help keep your property’s water clean, consider providing filters for the kitchen sink, as this tap is often used for drinking water. If you provide a refrigerator with a water dispenser for residents, make sure the filter on that is fresh for move-in, and leave a few spares so the residents can change them regularly.
You can also review reports—called Consumer Confidence Reports—on the public water systems for your area at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website to be aware of the quality of water being piped to your property. While public water systems are required to meet certain standards and test regularly, contaminations do happen. If you do think something may be wrong with your building’s water quality, another step you can take is to have the property’s water tested. Again, the EPA provides a list of certified water testing labs.
Implementing these simple strategies can go a long way toward protecting your residents, keeping your investment in good shape, and making sure your property is an appealing place to live. Attracting and keeping tenants is tough, and going above and beyond like this can give you a serious leg up over the competition. Have any more tips or strategies? Share them in the comments below.
Author Blurb: Elaine Thompson is based in Salt Lake City and has a BA in communication and journalism. She is an expert in home savings and improvement. Follow her on Twitter @EThompOfficial
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