It’s that time of year again; that time when Americans all over the country get together with their family and friends to celebrate the freedom they enjoy each and every day.
While the Fourth of July is often a time of excitement, good food, and of course, fireworks, property owners often cringe at the thought of their Baltimore County tenants taking part in anything firework related near their rental property.
And rightfully so.
Despite the known risks that come with fireworks, people are still careless enough to rack up nearly 1,300 structural fires and over $40 million dollars in direct property damage each year.
And let’s not forget the safety concerns that come with fireworks. In 2015, there were over 11,000 emergency room visits attributed to firework injuries.
In response to those startling statistics, today we are going to look at ways in which you can minimize firework risks at your rental property this Fourth of July.
You do not want your property, and tenants, to become part of the annual firework report.
How to Minimize Firework Risks at Your Rental This 4th of July
1. Inform Tenants About the Law
For those familiar with Fourth of July celebrations in the state of Maryland, it is likely you are already aware that the use of fireworks is illegal.
That is, unless they are part of a public display for which the State Fire Marshal has granted a permit.
This means, in order for your tenant to display any type of firework at your rental property, they must have the proper permits and insurance to do so.
In addition, it is illegal for your tenants to purchase legally sold fireworks in neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, transport them across state lines to Maryland, and shoot them off.
However, each county differs when it comes to things like hand-held and ground-based sparkler devices.
For example, toy pistols or guns that pop, hand-held sparklers, non-aerial and non-explosive ground-based sparkling devices, and “snakes” are permitted for backyard use in Baltimore County without a permit.
Letting your tenant know at the start of their lease term what the Baltimore County firework laws are is beneficial for many reasons.
To start, it will prevent your tenant from conducting any type of illegal activity on the premises of your rental property.
It should also prevent any structural damage to your property, and ensure the safety of your tenants and any guests they may have over.
2. Require Renters Insurance
Even though the fireworks that are allowed in Baltimore County don’t seem dangerous, you never know what could happen. It doesn’t take much to cause some serious damage to your rental property.
Plus, this holiday involves playing with fire – literally.
And, unless you are planning on heavily monitoring your rental and your tenant’s behavior on the holiday (which is not a good idea), there really is no way of stopping your tenant from making a poor decision.
That said, you should require your tenants get renters insurance before moving into your rental property.
Here’s why that’s a good idea:
- Renters insurance covers your tenant’s personal belongings in the case of fire or smoke damage that can result from a backyard firework display
- Any type of structural fire or smoke damage will fall under your tenant’s renters insurance first, rather than your homeowners insurance, if they are found to have been negligent and at fault
- Should someone become injured while on your property, damage something, or want to sue your tenant, their renters insurance will cover it
- Additional living expenses are often covered, should your tenant become displaced because of damage due to a fire
By requiring your tenant to get renters insurance (which is, by the way, very affordable), you reduce your responsibility, and add an extra layer of protection for yourself, and for your investment property.
Combined with the homeowners insurance you surely have on your rental property, should the worst happen, you are covered.
3. Give Your Tenants Some Safety Tips
At the time of move-in, it is always a nice gesture to give your tenants a welcome package. This may include things like a local map, essential toiletries, a gift card to a local restaurant, and any important contact information you want your tenant to have on hand.
However, another great thing to include is a firework safety checklist, should your tenant actually get a permit from the state to set off the fireworks.
Not sure what to put on the checklist?
Here are some great tips brought to you by the National Council on Firework Safety:
- Always obey all local laws regarding firework use
- Only allow responsible adults to supervise all firework use
- Never consume alcohol while using fireworks
- Light one firework at a time, and quickly move away
- Never attempt to relight a dud
- Never use homemade fireworks
- Always have a bucket of water, sand, or a fire extinguisher nearby
- Use fireworks outside and away from the property’s structure or landscaping
- Never let children play with fireworks
- Do not bring your pet near fireworks
- Do not aim fireworks at anyone or anything
- Never light fireworks in a container of any sort
- Always call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency
In the end, while the Baltimore County laws greatly limits the fireworks your tenants can use on your rental property (or any property for that matter), it is better to be safe rather than sorry, and advise your tenants of how to practice firework safety.
If you are looking for a property management company to help you with your Baltimore County rental property, contact Bay Management Group today.
We can help you place high quality tenants in your property that are less likely to break the law and shoot off illegal fireworks during the Fourth of July. In addition, our experienced property managers can draft legally compliant lease agreements that require your tenants to have renters insurance prior to moving into your property.
The Fourth of July is a fun time —it is a time to celebrate the freedom we are so lucky to have. Worrying about your rental property and the safety of your tenants should not take away from this special holiday’s excitement.
Let Bay Management Group help you minimize the firework risks at your Baltimore County rental property, so you too can enjoy the summer’s hottest holiday.