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What To Know About Fireplaces For Rental Properties

fireplaces, lloyd new yorkA fireplace is a sought-after amenity for many renters and can help a house or apartment rent faster. But fireplaces can be as dangerous as they are enjoyable. If you’re a landlord or property manager, here are some things to consider before allowing tenants to use a fireplace.

Insurance costs

You’re probably going to pay more to insure a unit with an active fireplace. Find out how much more and decide if it’s worth it.

How about an electric fireplace?

Granted, electric fireplaces aren’t as desirable as wood or gas fireplaces, but they’re a lot safer in rental units. Modern electric fireplaces are quite aesthetically pleasing and in many ways resemble a “real” fireplace.

Be proactive about chimney cleaning & inspection

If you provide wood or gas fireplaces in your rental properties, it’s up to you to make sure the appliances are properly serviced. This means annual chimney sweeping to remove flammable creosote and annual inspections to spot signs of damage or malfunction so they can be addressed.

One of the biggest concerns with wood-burning fireplaces is a chimney fire caused by excess creosote buildup. A licensed, CSIA-certified chimney sweep is the only person you should hire to perform cleanings and inspections.

Make sure tenants know how to operate the fireplace

Tenants should know these fireplace usage guidelines:

  • Burn only wood in the fireplace, never any other material or substance
  • Use only matches and kindling to start fires – don’t use lighter fluid, charcoal lighter, or any other accelerant
  • Don’t over-stack the firebox as this can cause excess heat and smoke and lead to damage or a fire
  • Burn dry wood (instead of damp wood) to reduce the amount of smoke
  • Open the damper fully before starting a fire
  • Alert property management or the landlord if any signs of fireplace or chimney malfunction are observed
  • Call 911 if signs of a chimney fire occur: large amounts of dense smoke backing up into the house, a rumbling sound like from a distant train, or strange clicking or tapping noises

Your fireplace manufacturer’s owner’s manual will give other operational guidelines to pass on to tenants.

Provide a fire extinguisher

All of your units that contain flame-based fireplaces or stoves should contain a working fire extinguisher. Make sure your tenants know how to use it.

Smoke detectors and CO monitors

Units also should be equipped with working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors. It’s your responsibility to see that batteries are replaced and that the devices keep working.

Include language about fireplace use in the lease

Spell out clearly in tenant leases what will be your responsibility in maintaining the fireplace and what will be the responsibility of the renters.

Following these and other smart guidelines will allow you to make the best decision about whether to include fireplaces in your rental units.

fireplaces and stoves, beekman nyIf you’re a landlord or property manager and are considering adding gas or wood fireplaces to your units, Hudson Valley Chimney of Poughkeepsie, NY, can help you select the ideal models based on heating needs and energy requirements. We also can professionally install your new appliances in a safe way and in compliance with all local safety and building codes.

Call us today at (845) 471-1071 for more information.


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