As a landlord, you are responsible for many different aspects of your property. If you own or manage many different locations, the responsibilities multiply – and it can be difficult to know what to do if an emergency like a fire occurs. Who is responsible for what? What does a tenant have to do if a fire breaks out on the property? As the owner, what should you do first to ensure your tenant and property are safe?
What is a Landlord Responsible for on the Property?
As a landlord, you are responsible to your tenant to keep a “warranty of habitability”. This means that the rental property must be livable, safe, and clean for anyone living in the rental unit. As the property owner, you are also responsible for utilities, taxes, financials, and any property maintenance.
There are several things that are standard in the warranty of habitability.
- Functioning hot water
- No bug infestations
- No broken staircases or walls
- If the home was built before 1978, you must provide a lead paint disclosure form should the property use lead paint
- If mold is found in the property, you are required to remove it and fix the issue that started the mold
- Follow all occupancy codes for your state
- Provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Provide snow removal
How to Ensure Your Property is Protected
While the above issues may seem pretty standard for property owners, it is important to protect your property from any disasters like water or fire.
An umbrella policy provides an additional layer of insurance to your rental property. Most typically umbrella policies cover one to five million dollars in damages.
Landlord Responsibilities After a Fire
Should a fire break out in a property that you own – don’t panic. Going through a fire can be devastating – regardless of the amount of damage that occurs to the property or structure. As a landlord, you must be prepared for everything.
Immediately After the Fire
- Talk to the fire department and get contact information from the fire officer for any necessary future communication.
- Call McMahon Services, a fire restoration company, immediately. We service properties in Chicago, Arlington Heights, Libertyville, Naperville, Skokie, Waukegan, Palatine, Oak Park, and other surrounding Illinois counties.
- Alert your insurance company to the issue. Be sure to let them know that you are already working with a fire restoration company that will be in touch with details.
- Immediately connect with your tenant and ensure their safety. Be sure to get a statement regarding any details regarding the fire.
- Explain to your tenant that they should contact their insurance company. If they don’t have rental insurance, call a company like the American Red Cross that can help in emergency situations.
- Once the fire department clears the home, walk through the property with the fire department and your tenant to collect any belongings and assess any damage.
A Few Days After the Fire
- Take pictures of all the damage for your records and for the insurance companies.
- Prepare a written statement and inventory of any damaged property.
- Prepare a list of any items that were damaged like appliances, cabinets, countertops, etc.
- Take a video walkthrough of the structure.
- Get a report from the fire department covering the details and probable cause of the fire.
Who Pays for Fire Damage?
Landlords are ultimately responsible for fixing any damages to the property as it relates to the structure, electrical system, or plumbing. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the cost falls on you! Your homeowner policy should cover most of your repairs.
As a landlord, you are not responsible for your tenant’s lost property. Their renter’s insurance will cover the loss of their items like clothes, electronics, furniture, etc. If they have no rental insurance, they are responsible for replacing these items on their own.
If the tenant can prove you are responsible for the fire out of negligence, they can recoup the cost of lost possessions and other expenses.
Should you experience any fire damage in your rental property, McMahon Service is here to help you restore your property back to its original state. Call us immediately to allow our experienced team to begin our restoration process.