Every property is exposed to some degree of fire risk. As a NoVA rental property owner, it’s critical that you do what you can to minimize these life-threatening and costly instances.
While wildfire isn’t the most common cause of fires in the Northern Virginia area, other risks put your property on the line. Many of these are preventable with excellent NoVA property management services and some education for your residents. Hiring a professional to help interface with your renters and perform routine inspections with a focus on fire safety go hand-in-hand when protecting your long-term income.
Note: This blog post does not act as a substitute for legal counsel. When in doubt, consult with your trusted attorney or the property management experts at Renters Warehouse DC/NOVA for real-time assistance!
How Common Are House Fires in Virginia?
It’s common to think fires are not something that you have to worry about happening here in the Northern Virginia area because we don't live in a high-risk wildfire state like California. Yet, they may happen more often than many realize.
- The Virginia Department of Fire Programs reported 70 fire-related calls each day in 2018.
- The overall loss due to fire-related damage was $249 million for the state.
What Can You Do to Reduce Fire Risks?
For NoVA rental property owners, investing in a few simple steps and strategies may help to reduce fire risks. The key is to take steps to do this on your own and educate your renters about the importance of fire safety. Here are some things we would focus on as NoVA property management providers.
#1: Invest in Fire Extinguishers
Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher. There are several types of fire extinguishers available, but you should choose one that is best suited for the type of risks your renters might face in that particular room of the house.
The United States Fire Administration recommends choosing those labeled as A, B, or C:
- A-type fire extinguishers are ideal for cloth, wood, and paper fires
- B-type fire extinguishers are ideal for flammable liquids and combustibles such as oil, gas, and grease
- C-type fire extinguishers are best for electrical threats such as equipment or appliance fires
Local classes may be available to provide some help when it comes to teaching renters how to use these different classes of fire extinguishers. Some cities (such as Fairfax) offer training opportunities. Otherwise, there are professional organizations that provide this type of training.
#2: Install Smoke and Fire Alarms
Choosing the right type of smoke alarm is another important step. Today, there are many advanced options; some offer exceptional coverage and protection with WiFi-connected or smart home technology.
What’s most important is to ensure the alarm detects both smoke and fire, and can alert those in the home. Some will alert the local fire department as well. For those looking for a more advanced option, consider one that sends a message to your phone if there is an alarm at your rental property.
#3: Check Your Insurance
Both property owners and renters need to maintain proper insurance on their property to ensure protection.
- Property owner insurance should cover the structural components of the space.
- This may include equipment and maintenance on the property as well.
- It should cover all outbuildings and structures present.
- Be sure it is enough to cover all expenses and valuables.
Renters insurance is also important. Whether you require it or not, renters insurance is strongly recommended for all renters. The property owner’s insurance does not cover the personal belongings of the renter. That means that he or she will suffer significant financial loss should a fire occur.
#4: Take Steps to Protect Your Property
It’s also important for property owners to be aggressive at ensuring their property is as fire-safe as possible. There are various ways to ensure this happens.
- Ensure landscaping minimizes the risk of fire transfer from a nearby structure or tree to the home.
- Confirm there is space in between the home and any flammable material. This can help to protect against rogue fires.
- Investigate your NoVA rental home’s electrical system. A professional should inspect this every few years—especially if the home is older or there are frequent power surges.
- An uptick in their electric bills could indicate the renters are using more power through electronics. Ensure these are grounded properly to protect the home from the onset of fire.
#5: Work With a NoVA Property Management Company
Your NoVA property management company can help to minimize fire risks by providing support to renters and ensuring the property is properly maintained on an ongoing basis. It is critical to ensure your NoVA rental property is properly maintained, kept clean, and monitored for any concerns that should arise over time.
Having the right team on your side can make a big difference. Our professionals at Renters Warehouse DC/NOVA can provide the services you need to keep your rental homes fire safe! You can also get started by downloading your free copy of our Makeready Checklist to put a professional touch on your property walkthroughs—and spot details you might miss!