No one ever expects a fire in their own property, much more, their business. It’s something that you know happens, but you have never imagined will happen to you…until it does. But have faith, it’s not the end. There are things that you can do to rise from the ashes and that’s what we’re going to share with you in this article.
Common Fire Hazards in a Rental Property
If you’re reading this after a fire, then we are so sorry about your loss. On the other hand, if you’re reading this article to prepare for the inevitable, then that’s great. That is the most ideal. Hence, allow us to share with you the most common fire hazards in a rental property that you must be wary of:
- Cooking equipment. All it takes is one absent-minded home cook who leaves the stove on unattended to wreak havoc to an entire rental property. This is the reason why it’s always best to install smoke detectors beforehand.
- Electrical equipment. Remind your tenants to be careful with old appliances with fraying wires. Extension cords should be carefully monitored as well and made sure that they are not being used inappropriately.
- Faulty wiring. Speaking of electrical cords, the ones that you don’t see can be even more worrying. Here are tell-tale signs that you need to contact an electrician immediately:
- Your lights go dim whenever you plug something in.
- A fuse has blown up.
- You’re smelling something that’s literally “fishy”. It’s apparently what electrical components smell like when they’re burning. Yikes.
- Lighting. Lighting fixtures should always be placed in areas far from things that can easily catch fire due to heat, like curtains and paper products.
- Smoking indoors. As much as we want to prohibit smoking, we simply cannot say when a tenant will choose to smoke indoors. The problem is, a cigarette butt can stay alit for hours if not put out properly, and as long as its lit, there’s always a chance of something in the property catching fire. Hence, make sure to have smoke detectors especially in areas where people would most likely smoke like the living room and the bedroom.
- Candles. Here’s another fire hazard that’s unfortunately much worse than a cigarette butt.
- Flammable liquids. Liquids like lighter fluid, alcohol, and even solvents used by painters and other artists, are highly flammable. Hence, they should never be stored near a heat source.
- Oxygen. Don’t underestimate the flammability of medical equipment, especially big oxygen tanks.
- Children and pets. Finally, no matter how careful an adult can be, everything can still go to dust with the combination of a curious kid (or a hyperactive puppy) and a lit candle. This is the reason why we always discourage candles for families with young ones and pets.
Related: How to Set the Best Pet Policies for Your Rental Properties
By the way, these are not the only fire hazards out there. The ones that we have listed above are simply those that are most commonly used and have been frequently reported to cause residential and rental fires throughout the years.
Contact Your Insurance Company Immediately
Despite our best efforts to prevent fires, though, sadly it can still happen—regardless if it’s someone’s fault or not. In the end, the first thing to do is to contact your insurance company immediately. This will allow you to start your claims process.
Related: 10 Types of Insurance for Real Estate Investors
After the call, collect all of the information that you can on how the fire possibly started, especially since it’s still fresh in everyone’s memory. The fire department will also conduct its own investigation. Assist them as much as you can.
Contact Fire Restoration Companies
The next thing that you need to do is to contact a fire restoration company. Keep in mind, that it is only the fire department’s job to put the fire out. They are not in charge of preventing further damage caused by the fire, such as the water damage that can occur after a fire has created a gaping hole in the roof of your rental property, and the rainy season has just started (or worse, the fire caused a water tank to burst open). That task is for the fire restoration company. Opt for one that offers emergency services to get immediate help.
Don’t forget to make sure that the fire restoration team that you have chosen has been approved by your insurance company since they will also be in charge of assessing the extent of the damage incurred by your rental property.
Smoke Damage from Household Textiles and Clothing
Aside from a fire restoration company, you might also want to get smoke remediation services. You see, most of the items that were salvaged from the fire can still sustain smoke damage, especially after just hours or days being exposed to that burnt environment.
Most furniture pieces, textiles, and clothing can still be saved, but only with the proper cleaning techniques and equipment. However, not responding immediately will leave the soot to embed deeper into your items that can create permanent staining and odor.
Handling Odors After a Fire Damage
Speaking of odor, smoke particles can also embed themselves in other parts of your rental property like your carpets and walls. They can significantly affect your property’s indoor air quality and put you and your tenant’s health at risk even long after the fire has been extinguished.
The smoke remediation company can provide assistance in dealing with this as well, but there are ways that you can also do on your own to lessen the problem. First, you can improve the ventilation of your rental property by opening all the windows. This will allow fresh air to enter and poor air to escape. You can also get an air scrubber that can help absorb the harmful particles in the air. Finally, have your HVAC system inspected for any damage, and clean all its air filters immediately.
Installing Commercial Grade Equipment
Aside from an air scrubber, you can also get other commercial-grade equipment to help you remedy the damage to your rental property. For instance, using your air scrubber in tandem with an air mover is great for cleaning the air in your property while also helping it to dry from the water damage that it might have suffered during the extinguishing.
And since you’re dealing with water damage already, you should also consider installing commercial dehumidifiers in order to prevent mold development and growth from excessive moisture.
Help Your Tenants
Finally, regardless of who’s at fault, it is still your responsibility as a landlord and rental property owner to provide your tenants with a safe place to stay. Hence, don’t forget to assist them in getting relocated, temporarily or permanently.
We sincerely hope that the time won’t come when you’ll need the information that we have just shared with you, but just in case, we hope that we were able to provide some assistance in this time of need. Stay strong. This is just a hurdle. You will live through this, rebuild, and move on.
This article has been contributed by Megan Jones.