Renting and Babyproofing: what if I’m not allowed to make holes in the walls?

If you rent, there’s a good chance at some point you’ve had a landlord tell you “no holes in the walls”. But – when it comes to the safety of babies and toddlers, is that policy really reasonable?
Unfortunately, this isn’t just about baby gates: it’s about anchoring furniture, too. Furniture hazards exist in all homes, and tip-over injuries can be serious or fatal to young children. After years of working in this field and meeting affected families, it’s a babyproofing task I personally would never skip.
“My child is worth more than my damage deposit” Of course they are! But, it’s also important to recognize that not all families have the financial ability to forfeit a damage deposit, and some especially need that assurance that money will come back to them for their move to their next home.
So, what’s a renter to do, then? If you are currently living with this exact situation, here are my two pro tips on what to do:

  1. Check with your local tenancy board: In some areas, you may be protected as a tenant when installing a safety device. Meaning: if it’s for safety, you wouldn’t be punished with a withheld damage deposit. Anchoring furniture and baby gates would be included in that. But, this doesn’t apply everywhere unfortunately, so it’s worth a quick phone call.
  2. If Option 1 is a ‘dead end’: my advice is to ask your landlord for, in writing, that they are asking you to not install a safety device for your child. Most landlords will realize at this point that the liability related to an injured child over a damage deposit dispute is not worth it. It’s totally reasonable for the landlord to ask that the holes are patched, and really, this is such a minor, low-cost thing to do. As one of my babyproofer peers says, “it’s a bit of spackling paste and a dab of paint with a Q-tip” (we’re not cutting out huge chunks of drywall, after all). Consider proactively offering to do the patchwork as part of your request, and ask if they have any touch-up paint you can keep in your unit for when the time comes.

You can watch my video about this topic on Instagram, here. (I also have a ton more videos about why anchoring furniture is SO important)



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