Renting out single family homes can be a lucrative investment, so you want to make sure your investment is protected. Although insurance is a must, you also need to guard against possible disasters. One such disaster that can be devastating to both you and your tenants is a fire. Insurance can help offset the cost of the property damages, but it cannot recover lost rent money—not to mention the possible loss of life. The following are a few tips that you, as the property owner, can implement to help protect your property and tenants from fire.
#1: Install extinguishers in the hot spots
The kitchen is the most common area where house fires start. Although some municipalities require fire extinguishers in rental properties, not all do. If yours doesn't, consider doing it anyway. Installing a fire extinguisher in the kitchen provides your tenants with a method to quickly contain any accidental cooking fires. During the annual inspection of the property replace or service any extinguishers that are due. You may also want to install extinguishers in other parts of the home, such as near patios or balconies where grills may be used.
#2: Say no to smoking
Depending on local laws, it may be well within your rights to disallow smoking in your rental property. If this is the case in your location, then consider doing so. Having a hefty cleaning fee or guaranteed loss of deposit helps enforce the rule. It only takes a few minutes for a forgotten cigarette butt to start a fire that can burn down the entire home. You likely won't be able to control outside smoking, so provide a safe, enclosed ashtray at all properties so smokers can be encouraged to put out their cigarettes in a safe manner.
#3: Maintain the heating and electrical system
The furnace is another common cause for fires, particularly if your rental has gas appliances with pilot lights. First, make sure these appliances are separated from storage areas in the rental, and post clear signs indicating that storage isn't safe in the area. You should also schedule an annual inspection of the heating and electrical systems of the home. This way you catch faulty wiring before it becomes an issue.
#4: Install an alarm system
A fire alarm system won't stop a fire, but it is the single best way to reduce damages. These systems will alert fire crews as soon as a fire starts, ensuring it is put out promptly. It will also alert the residents, so they can act and vacate the property for their own safety. You can also have a combined sprinkler and alarm system installed, which can further minimize damages and the chance of the fire spreading to other parts of the home.