Substandard housing is not housing that is old or outdated. It is housing that poses a risk to the health and physical well-being of its occupants, neighbors and visitors. Substandard housing brings increased risk of disease and decreased mental health to the families and individuals who live there.
Landlords are obligated to maintain their rental properties to the minimum standards set by the Property Maintenance Code. Examples of violations include heating problems, plumbing problems, electrical problems, lack of weather protection and structural hazards.
Dangerous structures must be made safe or demolished. Dangerous conditions include potential structural failure, exposed electrical wiring, heavy fire damage and abandoned, and open structures. Vacant buildings must be adequately secured by fencing and/or boarding. The City of Austin enforces the Property Maintenance Code to regulate dangerous structures.
Code enforcement is notified of structure fires and sends an investigator to assess the damage and ensure the building is adequately secured. Buildings must either be repaired or demolished to meet code standards.
Ways to minimize risks:
Install Fire Alarms- don't forget to change the batteries at least annually.
Candles: Don't leave candles unattended near window drapes or blankets. Also, keep out of reach of children or pets.
Appliances: make sure appliances are in working condition and that there are no exposed wires. Don't oversaturate electrical outlets and unplug small appliances when they're not in use.
Purchase a Fire Extinguisher- Check it annually to verify it is in good working conditions and up to date. Keep near the kitchen or fireplace.
Low exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) can cause headaches and dizziness, while high levels can lead to vomiting, impaired vision, and even death. Carbon monoxide is virtually impossible to detect by smell, sight, or sound, making it a difficult threat to discern. But there are things you can do to ward off CO-related injuries.
Ways to minimize risks:
Install a CO Detector- keep your loved ones safe by installing a carbon monoxide detector that alerts you if CO reaches dangerous levels at home. There are detectors that plug into electrical outlets which provide assurance and saves you from needing to change batteries. Learn more about where to install your carbon monoxide detectors.
HVAC Maintenance- Appliances such as HVAC systems or water heaters use gas, oil, or coal. When buying a home, consider having these tools professionally inspected. If you are a renter and suspect a possible leak, open all windows for ventilation and request your landlord to have the appliance in question professionally inspected.