Suwannee County does not have enough rental property. Landlords provide an important service to the community and to the renters who need a home. Many landlords work to provide clean and healthy homes, but according to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 5.9 million units in the United States that are substandard with multiple health hazards. Occupants living in substandard homes can experience adverse health conditions. Some of these issues are asthma, neurological damage, cancer, respiratory problems, poisonings, falls, injury, burns, lead poisoning, reduced physical activity, isolation, and poor mental health can be linked to issues with substandard housing.
What are the components of a healthy home?
The nine principles include a home that is dry, clean, pest-free, ventilated, safe, contaminant-free, maintained, thermally controlled, and accessible. Seems like simple ideas that landlords can provide (or renters can request).
- carbon monoxide alarms if there is gas fire equipment and smoke alarms outside sleeping areas.
- locks changed after tenant.
- air conditioning systems that not only cool the air, but in Florida, also removes moisture, so mold and mildew do not grow.
- enough insulation to keep homes comfortable.
- the ability for the home to withstand storms.
- a home that does not attract pests.
- a structure that keeps out moisture when it rains.
- properly working faucets and showerheads that do not leak.
- a space free of tripping hazards.
- adequate electrical service
- smoking policies in writing.
What about Safer?
To make property more rentable, another consideration is how to make sure homes are safer for our elderly population through lighting and other accommodations. Every family should live in a home that protects them. Regulations can safeguard occupants but making landlords aware of the importance of these items cannot be possible without government intervention. The National Healthy Housing standard provides guidance to new and existing landlords about some of the best practices to keep everyone safe and healthy, for more information click here. It is important to get sound information that come from code officials, like Health Department, your local Extension Office and other public health leaders. Landlords who are proactive, keep people safe and healthy in the places they live.
What about Affordability?
Should affordability be listed as the 10th component for a healthy home? Shelter is a basic need. Frequent moves, eviction, overcrowding, living with relatives or homelessness are all results of being unable to meet rent or mortgage payment. Higher housing costs can also result in leasing of substandard housing. You rent what you can afford. We want lower crime, improved credit scores, good mental health, and access to adequate and nutritious food for our citizens? According to the national center for healthy housing is one of the best know documented determinants of health. Housing is the foundation for our community and should not be overlooked.