Fireplace Considerations for Property Owners
A rental property with a fireplace stands out from its competitors. Survey after survey has shown that Americans love living in a home with a fireplace. Unfortunately, it also increases the risks for landlords and property managers. A fireplace can be a dangerous appliance. Is it worth the risk?
The answer to that question is up to you. Here are eight tips to help you decide.
#1. Reach out to your insurance company.
Having a fireplace in a rental unit increases the risk of property damage from a fire and a gas leak (if you install a gas fireplace), which means a higher premium. Get in contact with your insurance provider to find out how much the premium will increase. If the cost is more than the additional rent you could charge, it wouldn’t be a smart investment to make.
#2. Require your renters to carry insurance.
If you decide to rent out a unit with a fireplace, require renters’ insurance. This will ensure that any potential damage caused by the fireplace will be covered under either the tenant’s insurance or yours.
#3. Show your tenant how to use the fireplace.
Whether the unit has a wood-burning, gas, or electric fireplace, teaching them how to use it properly can prevent many dangerous scenarios. Make it a part of your process, when you drop off their keys and sign the lease, to them through how to use it!
They will need to know:
- how to open and close the damper
- where they can store firewood, along with how and where to dispose of ashes safely (if it’s a wood-burning fireplace)
- how to use the controls (if it’s a gas or electric fireplace)
Taking the time to give them a five-to-ten-minute tutorial could prevent a future fire. It also creates the perfect opportunity to lay out your expectations for them regarding fireplace safety and maintenance responsibilities.
#4. Spell out tenant responsibilities in the lease and in-person.
How much fireplace maintenance do you expect the tenant to do on their own? Clearly state what your expectations are for the tenant in the lease, and be sure to go over it with them in person. Most renters read through the lease quickly without paying attention to the finer details. If you expect them to follow the lease terms, be sure to share your expectations with them in-person.
#5. Set the expectation that you should be notified of any fireplace issues immediately.
Many things can go wrong with a fireplace that could be dangerous. For example, a gas fireplace that won’t light could be due to a pilot light that’s out or caused by a gas leak. Be clear with your tenant that you want to be notified of any fireplace problems immediately so that you can take care of it and prevent it from escalating. Something both tenants and landlords can agree on is that you don’t want a house fire.
#6. Schedule regular maintenance.
Scheduling regular chimney maintenance can dramatically decrease the risk of a fireplace-related disaster. This is especially true for wood-burning fireplaces that produce creosote that needs to be cleaned out every fall. If your rental unit has a gas fireplace, you won’t need to have the chimney swept. Instead, schedule an annual inspection in early autumn to ensure that there aren’t any gas leaks before your tenant uses it.
#7. Place a fire extinguisher, smoke detector, and carbon monoxide detector by the fireplace.
Every rental unit should have a fire extinguisher and smoke detector. If the unit has a fireplace, it’s critically important to add a carbon monoxide detector to protect your tenants. Carbon monoxide leaks are a severe risk in homes with a fireplace. This toxic, tasteless, odorless gas can’t be detected without one.
#8. Choose an easy-to-use fireplace.
Gas and electric fireplaces are ideal for rental units. They are easy to use and require much less maintenance than a wood-burning fireplace. You also won’t have to worry about a woodpile that could attract termites or a lawn fire caused by ashes that weren’t disposed of properly. Your tenants will love the convenient features like the ability to control it with a remote control or wall switch.
If you’re considering a fireplace for your rental property, stop by Burling Fireplace and Solar!
You can view live burning models in our showroom and speak with our expert staff about your project. Our goal is to be your personal guide from selection through installation, always ensuring that your fireplace exceeds your expectations.