Q: What are safety-related window screen requirements for rental homes?
Most of the windows in the one-story home I recently rented out do not have screens. The tenants have asked to have screens installed so that their pets don't escape. When I declined the request today, the rental management company told me that I need to have screens installed in all of the windows, in case someone falls out (and falls a few feet to the ground outside). There are no children living in the home. It seems odd to me that a pet-related request became an accident liability issue, two months into the lease. Do I have an obligation to install screens now, if the house didn't come with them and I've never agreed to install any?
A: I know of no legal requirements for a landlord to provide window screens, especially if on a single story. Your insurance company might want it (though how much protection from falling does a screen actually provide?) and in the interests of protecting yourself, with the new lease paperwork you may wish to include a notice (at least one or more Multifamily Northwest forms includes such notice/warning to tenants) warning tenants to keep a watch on children and anyone who might fall from the window. But keeping a pet inside while having a window open far enough for them to escape is the tenant's problem, not the landlord's. If it was important to them, they should have either rented elsewhere or, at a minimum, raised the issue with the landlord prior to signing a lease. Their failure to do their due diligence does not translate into the landlord's expense and problem.
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