For every conscientious and responsible property owner, there is an endless list of details to keep track of. In the daily work, it’s easy to lose track of some of the seemingly less important tasks. With a limited number of hours in each day, it’s tempting to focus on the big picture items that make an impression on potential new tenants. As you’re taking stock of what to focus on next, here are two exterior maintenance items you should add to the top of your to-do list!

Two Forgotten Details: 

Check Your Handrails

Handrails are essential for the safety of your residents and your visitors. They provide stability and help prevent slips and falls during slippery weather conditions. Handrails also give peace of mind to those who may be unsteady on their feet.

Check the sturdiness of the handrails around your properties as part of your regular maintenance plan. Since people utilize them regularly, they can loosen from their moorings, which could cause a tumble with long-term consequences. As a landlord, you are responsible for monitoring wear and tear on your properties. There are specific codes in place to help you decide when and where to install or upgrade a handrail. In Oregon, the requirements are clearly laid out.

Handrail Requirements

  • Stairways must have a handrail if the stairway has more than three risers.
  • Handrails may project over stairs by 4 1/2 inches maximum on each side of the stairway.
  • Handrails must be continuous for the full length of the stairs. They must turn back into the wall or butt into a post so that purse straps and clothing won’t get caught behind them and cause a fall.
  • Handrails attached to the wall must have a space between the wall and the rail of at least 1 1/2 inches to provide a grippable surface.
  • Handrails on the open side of a stairway must meet guardrail requirements.
  • The height of a handrail is measured straight up from the nosing of the treads to the top of the handrail. A handrail along a wall must be between 30 inches and 38 inches high.
  • A round handrail must have a diameter no smaller than 1 1/4 inches and no larger than 2 inches so that users can easily and securely grip them. Other handrail shapes are allowed if the perimeter dimension is at least 4 inches and not more than 6 1/4 inches, with a cross-section dimension not more than 2 1/4 inches. 

If you are renting out one of Portland’s older homes, which are highly desirable because of their charm and history, you won’t need to make any changes as long as the existing stairway leads to an existing finished living space that was created with a building permit (check for permits on Portland Maps). However, if you need to upgrade your stairwells, be sure to double-check the requirements for both the width of staircases as well as the tread of the stairs (the height of each step and the angle of the staircase).

Check Your Exterior Lighting 

Exterior lighting is an easy detail to miss because burned-out lights are not always obvious in the daylight. But this is an important detail that provides additional safety and security for your property and your tenants. The two things to think about when addressing exterior lighting are quantity and quality. 


Prioritize exterior lighting illuminating parking lots, entrances to buildings, and locations on the property where people could loiter undetected. 


Nighttime lighting should illuminate the property but not be so glaring that it interferes with your residents’ quality of life. Motion detecting lights are a great option for many areas that require situational rather than continuous illumination. Taking the time to choose the right type of light will save you time and energy later on. In addition to general maintenance, make a plan to periodically survey your rental property at night so that you can catch those burned-out lights and replace them right away.

Important Responsibilities

Property management companies often have these types of maintenance needs scheduled into their dedicated employee responsibilities. But DIY landlord wear many different hats from administrator, to plumber, to rent collector. As a result these small details are easy to lose track of but can lead to costly lawsuits. Create a schedule to ensure that an easy fix doesn’t turn into an expensive problem!

If that all sounds like too much work, the professionals at Rent Portland Homes would be happy to help. Our team has years of property management experience. We can handle tasks like regular maintenance, tenant screening, and rent collection so you don’t have to. Contact Darla today at (503) 515-3170 or fill out the contact form on our website to learn more.