Independence Day celebrations are almost here, and with them comes the risk of accidents and fires. While most people take precautions, landlords have an additional worry when it comes to their tenants. Here are some property management techniques that can help prevent or reduce property damage and personal injuries caused by fireworks and fire on the 4th of July.
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Can you stop renters from setting off fireworks on your property?
There are two ways to potentially stop renters from shooting off 4th of July fireworks on your property. One is through your lease and the other involves local laws.
Your lease may have a list of rules or it may refer to a separate list of rules, like zoning or homeowners association bylaws. For example, a lease at a multifamily home may refer to separate community rules for things like pool hours. Your lease or the rules themselves may give you the authority to modify these rules at any time. This is useful because a fireworks clause is not a common lease term. If your lease enables you to make rules, you can notify your tenants in advance of the holiday that fireworks are not allowed on the property.
Many local laws and ordinances also prohibit fireworks. A reminder is enough to stop many tenants from using fireworks. If your tenants break these laws, especially if it disturbs other people or causes property damage, you may have the right to evict for illegal activity.
You can use the Rocket Lawyer Eviction Process Worksheet to determine whether you can evict and what steps you can take. Keep in mind that local laws will vary on whether setting off fireworks is serious enough to evict.
Do you have a pre-4th of July checklist?
Because you can never predict what your tenants or neighbors will do, it is a good idea to make sure your rental properties are prepared for a possible fireworks accident. Consider this checklist:
- Confirm all units have working smoke detectors. You will probably want to use the Landlord Notice to Enter so that you can inspect all smoke detectors. In addition, you may want to replace batteries or swap out older smoke detectors.
- Confirm fire extinguishers are readily accessible and not expired. It’s a good practice to have a fire extinguisher for each unit or attached to the exterior of multifamily units. While fire extinguishers usually need a professional inspection, you can still check expiration dates and make sure they are in place and easily accessible.
- Clear dead leaves and other kindling. Remove any yard debris that can easily burn if hit by a spark. If you rely on tenants for landscaping, you could conduct a pre-holiday inspection.
- Confirm lighting and security systems in common areas are in working order. Holidays are primetime for burglars trying to take advantage of everyone being away. In addition, you do not want a tenant who has had too much to drink getting hurt because the lights did not work.
What can property managers do to help tenants celebrate safely?
Property managers and owners can take a few additional steps to help tenants enjoy the holiday safely.
Post or deliver notices about holiday safety
Consider posting information on your property or sending notices by regular mail or email about legal vs. illegal fireworks and emergency services phone numbers. For example, local laws may permit sparklers and small bottle rockets. Tenants may choose the safer options over the more dangerous ones if they know what is permitted. Providing nonemergency fire and police numbers can make tenants more comfortable reporting potential hazards they do not think are serious enough for 911.
Provide for safe disposal of used fireworks
If you allow fireworks, or even if you don’t, provide for safe disposal of any flammable materials. These materials should go in a metal trash can outdoors. Keep that material separate from anything else that can burn.
Provide a designated area and time
This requires being more proactive, but it might prevent more dangerous use of fireworks in situations that are out of your control. A designated place and time for fireworks can help you take fire prevention steps and avoid noise complaints.
Do you have questions about fireworks?
Do you have questions about what rules you can set, what’s allowed in your area, or your liability if you allow fireworks? Reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney for answers to your rental property questions.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.