There are over 350,000 residential fires in the United States every year. Those fires start in less than thirty seconds, so if your South Florida property doesn’t have a proper fire prevention plan, there’s a possibility that it’ll be completely destroyed.
Fires may be covered by your insurance policy, however, that doesn’t mean you
should be complacent when it comes to fire prevention in your South Florida rental property. Fires can be catastrophic, impacting property and people, and if you’re found to have insufficient fire prevention measures, there’s a chance that you’ll face lawsuits – yes, plural.
Besides, it would be less of a hassle to prevent a fire than to have to rebuild after a fire. If your rental property is ravaged by a fire, you’d have to survive months of no rent.
In this article, we’ll share a few fire prevention tips you can implement to protect your investment property. By the end of the article, you should be able to create a fire prevention plan, or alternatively, enlist the services of a property management agent who can oversee fire safety in your real estate investment.
What are the common causes of residential fires?
Before we dive into fire prevention tips, it’s important to understand what causes fires in the first place. Here are some of the common causes of single-family home fires so you can implement the correct measures to protect your property today.
#1 Unattended cooking
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) claims that one of the most common culprits of residential fires involves leaving food unattended. As a landlord, you should remind your tenants to always keep an eye on what they’re cooking. They shouldn’t leave it – even if for a moment – to attend to other tasks. You should also remind your tenants to unplug the stove or oven after cooking.
#2 Scented candles
If your tenants are fond of scented candles, instruct them to never leave the candles unattended. Remind them not to light candles near curtains and to light them within sight at all times. Alternatively, you could consider implementing a no-candle policy.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 1,100 house fires are caused by space heaters and that 50 of those fires are fatal. Since it would be unreasonable to tell your tenants not to use a heater, the only thing you can do is to remind them to never leave it unattended and to turn it off when not in use. If you’re providing your tenants with an HVAC unit, be sure to have it checked regularly to make sure that it’s in good working order. A property management company can help you schedule these inspections so that your HVACs are always safe to use.
What can you do to prevent fires in your investment property?
Fortunately, your South Florida property doesn’t have to be a victim of a fire. There are several steps you can take to make sure that the likelihood of a house fire is as low as possible. By following these tips, you can prevent fires to protect your investment property.
#1 Follow the fire code
Each state has its specific fire code, so be sure to consult your South Florida property management company about it. For instance, the number of fire alarms to be installed in the home may vary by state. Keep in mind that if you do not obey the code, you may be asked to halt your operations – in other words, you won’t be able to continue renting it out until you deal with the issue.
#2 Educate your tenants on fire safety
In case a fire does occur, your tenants should know what to do since it’s unlikely that you’ll be there when it happens. If the fire can be put out, instruct your tenants to use the fire extinguisher (it’s extremely important to teach them how to use it, as well). However, if the fire is too dangerous, your tenants should not attempt to put it out. They should instead follow the fire escape route and get to safety.
#3 Check the smoke detectors
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, three out of five deaths due to fire are a result of smoke alarms that don’t work. As the landlord, it’s your responsibility to provide your tenants with working smoke alarms and to check if their batteries have to be replaced every year. If you’re a long-distance landlord, you can benefit from hiring a property management agent who can conduct these inspections for you.
#4 Consider banning smoking
As long as you own the property, you have the right to ban smoking as it is a fire risk. Make sure that the clause is in the lease, otherwise, you won’t be able to enforce the no-smoking ban.
Aside from being a fire risk, second-hand smoke is also a liability because it affects the life of the other tenants in a multi-unit rental property, particularly those with respiratory issues. Furthermore, in the event of turnover, smoke can make your rental unit less attractive to potential tenants, as its odor tends to stick to walls, carpets, and the like.
#5 Install sprinklers
Fire sprinklers can significantly reduce the chances of a fire spreading until it becomes uncontrollable. Keep in mind that it’ll take the fire department some time to get to the property, so you should do whatever it takes to mitigate the damage. According to the NFPA, fire sprinklers lower the risk of fatal fires by 81 percent, and when paired with smoke detectors, they can lower that fatal fire rate by 90 percent.
So, as you can see, fire safety is a critical aspect of South Florida property management. Not only does it save you from having to repair your property every time there’s a fire, but it also protects your tenants whom you’re responsible for.
At Luxury Property Care, we take fire safety extremely seriously. When you partner with us, we’ll make sure that your tenants know what not to do to prevent a fire, and what to do in the event of a fire. All of the properties that we manage have a custom fire prevention plan to mitigate the risk and to keep property and persons safe at all times.