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What responsibility does your landlord have to keep stairs safe?

Tenants have an array of specific rights, among which is the right to a safe home kept free of danger. Chief amongst your safety considerations as a tenant should be the stairs to and from your home. If those are unsafe, you run the risk of suffering severe injuries that can be debilitating and even life-threatening. You should check your stairs in the following respects to be quite sure that they are safe.

How wide should the stairs be?

If stairs are too narrow, you may not be able to get good footing. This may be a safety hazard if you are tired, you are carrying packages, it is dark or the weather is inclement. Your stairs should be 44 inches wide or more.

What height should each step be?

Steps that are too short promote slipping and falling with corresponding injuries. Save your shins and make sure that each step is at least 7 to 7.5 inches tall and 9 to 10 inches deep. If the steps meet or exceed those measurements, you can have a reasonable expectation of safety in that regard.

What should the nosing be?

The nosing of the stairway, or the projecting edge, should protrude no more than 1.5 inches. More than that and it may be a danger that causes tripping. It should also be beveled to further protect your safety.

What else should be done to prevent slipping?

If the stairs are smooth, your feet can slip, causing you to fall and get hurt. For that reason, traction should be improved by securely installing anti-slip material onto the stairs. Additionally, if there is carpet on the stairs the edge of it should be clearly noticeable to avoid tripping on that. These measures against tripping and falling, in addition to the other factors mentioned, can help ensure that you are safe.

Source: GuideOne Insurance, "GuideOne Center for Risk Management Slips and Fall Prevention: Stair Safety," accessed May. 26, 2015

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