A fireplace can give a home a unique kind of appeal. Aside from being an excellent source of heat, it’s a nice-looking centerpiece that can increase the value of your property.
But is installing a fireplace in your rental home ideal, considering that they a major fire hazard? If you’re deciding if you should build a fireplace in your Florida rental home, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Types of Fireplaces
#1 Gas Fireplace
Gas-burning fireplaces are fueled by natural gas. They fire up instantly and can be built into a wood-burning fireplace. Most gas-burning fireplaces use fake wood logs to give the appearance of a traditional fireplace but are generally considered safer to use, as their temperature can be controlled. The benefit of using a gas-burning fireplace is its reliability — if your tenants experience a power interruption, they can still keep themselves warm using the gas-burning fireplace.
#2 Electric Fireplace
An electric fireplace relies on electricity. To power it on, all you need to do is push a button. Many electric fireplaces have visual effects, such as a flickering flame, and sound effects, such as the sound of logs crackling, to make it feel like an authentic fireplace. They can be used throughout the year because users can turn the heat off while keeping the visuals on. However, since it runs on electricity, your tenants won’t be able to use it in the event of a power outage. Additionally, running an electric fireplace may be too expensive for many renters.
#3 Wood Fireplace
The “authentic” fireplace is the wood-burning fireplace. It uses wooden logs that have to be purchased or chopped, and are commonly found in traditional homes. Its main advantage is that it does not depend on electricity, gas, etc., which means that it can be used all year round. What gives it its one-of-a-kind charm, however, is the ambiance that it creates through the smells and sounds of burning wood. The downside is that wood-burning fireplaces are a major fire hazard, especially if your tenants don’t know how to use them.
Which Type of Fireplace is the Best for Your Rental Property?
An electric fireplace is the safest option for your rental property. This is because it does not produce an actual flame, and its temperature can be controlled with the push of a button. On top of that, an electric fireplace can add aesthetic appeal to any home.
Gas-burning fireplaces carry the risk of a gas leak. Additionally, your tenants may not know how to properly operate this type of fireplace. They may end up burning the wrong materials, neglecting to clean the flue, and more.
Wood-burning fireplaces are impractical for most types of homes, such as apartments and condominiums. They are also extremely dangerous, especially in multi-family dwellings, as the irresponsible actions of one person can result in disaster.
Things to Consider Before Adding a Fireplace to Your Rental Property
If you do decide to add a fireplace to your rental property, there are certain factors that you should consider before you commit to this massive investment.
#1 Check With Your Insurance Provider
Fireplaces carry a lot of risks. By adding a fireplace to your rental property, you are increasing the risk of fires, carbon monoxide leaks, gas leaks, and more. As the risk goes up, you will have to pay higher premiums.
Check with your insurance company to see how much more you would have to pay. Ask your property manager to determine the increased rent price, and then compare it to your increased premiums. You need to make sure that installing a fireplace will be worth it — if it’s not going to generate significantly more rental income, it might not be the best idea.
#2 Inspect the Smoke Detectors and Fire Extinguishers
With our without a fireplace, there should always be a smoke detector and fire extinguisher in the rental property. Since homes with fireplaces are at greater risk of house fires, you must ensure that these are still working properly. Replace the batteries on your smoke detectors every six months, and examine the fire extinguishers every six years. Keep in mind that while fire extinguishers do not have an expiration date, they should be replaced or recharged every twelve years.
#3 Conduct Regular Fireplace Maintenance
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends having the fireplace inspected and maintained at least once a year. Neglecting to perform annual maintenance puts your tenants at risk of toxic fumes and smoke, and increases the chances of a housefire. As the landlord, you are responsible for the well-being of your tenants. If your rental property has a fireplace, you cannot forget to ensure that your fireplace is maintained.
Hire a technician to conduct a thorough inspection of your rental’s fireplace and chimney. If you’re working with a property management company, they have a list of vetted vendors who can perform the job at the best possible price.
#4 Teach Your Tenants How to Use the Fireplace
During move-in day, it is important to go through the fireplace’s manual with your tenants. It’s a good idea to request everyone to be present (even the kids) to ensure that everyone fully understands fireplace safety. You may also consider giving them a copy of the operation manual so that they can easily access instructions that they might need. Be sure to instruct them to call you or your property managers immediately should they notice any issues with the fireplace.
On top of that, be sure to provide them with a copy of the fire escape route. This is especially true for multi-family properties such as apartments and condominiums.
#5 Require the Tenants to Get Renter’s Insurance
It would be wise to require your tenants to obtain renter’s insurance. This protects your property in the event of a fire caused by the tenant’s negligence. Their insurance will cover the costs for repairs and ensures that you have no liabilities.
Installing a fireplace in your rental property is a big decision. Hiring a property management firm can help you decide whether it’s the ideal investment for your rental property. At Luxury Property Care, our property managers will conduct a thorough evaluation of your rental based on the local real estate market. This information will help you determine whether or not building a fireplace would be the best move to make.