DEALING WITH THE GAS GRILL
Each year thousands of explosions and accidental fires occur due to the use and misuse of gas grills, resulting in of thousands of injuries, millions of dollars in property damage and approximately 20 deaths. Gas grills are dangerous and are usually prohibited in multi-family housing and condominiums, either due to company policy or fire code.
The Mechanics of the Gas Grill Danger
- Failure to use proper ventilation. Many residents fail to realize that gas grills emit carbon monoxide, an odorless gas which can kill. Resident sometimes will use a gas grill in an enclosed patio due to inclement weather or actually use a gas grill completely inside the premises.
- Explosion of gas when during ignition. Most gas grill users at one time or another turned on the gas, had trouble lighting the grill, had the grill top down and experienced the mini-startling explosion when the grill finally lit. Usually the result is embarrassment and some singed hair. This explosion can be far greater if the grill user forgets the gas is still on and running and a significant delay occurs between turning on the valve and eventual ignition. A larger explosion can injure a user or cause fire to flammable materials which may be near the grill.
- Venting. Propane tanks have a pressure relief valve which allows the propane to vent in the event the pressure inside the tank exceeds a manufacturers pre-set PSI (pounds per square inch). This is a safety mechanism to prevent the entire tank from rupturing in the event the pressure becomes too high. Pressure in a tank can become too high if the temperature around the tank is high, such as when the tank is sitting in the trunk of a vehicle, in the sun or in a very hot car. Propane has a chemical additive called ethyl mercaptan which is use to give the propane a distinct odor, but often this odor dissipates or is not detected by a user. The propane can be steadily venting, and a simple spark or lit cigarette can spell disaster.
- Defective valves and hoses Any long time user of a gas grill will experience the gas grill falling apart in time. The first thing to go is the igniter, the burner on the side goes shortly thereafter, and with time, the hoses can deteriorate. Leaks can and do occur, and a build up of undetected propane can result in a major explosion and often a resulting fire.
So, Do You Really Want That Grill on the Rental Property?
A resident has no inherent right to use a gas grill on or near the premises, and the lease can simply prohibit its use.
“No gas (propane or any other flammable gas or liquid) grill or tank or tanks containing any flammable gas or liquid shall be used or stored on or rental premises. The premises for the purpose of this section includes the interior of the premises, the exterior, any common areas, balconies, hallways, lanais, storage areas or garages.”
Dealing With the Resident Noncompliance
Some residents believe rules governing grills are meant to be broken. The manager needs to take swift, firm action against the resident to get compliance. Failure to take action will increase the manager’s liability and may result in a violation of the state or local fire codes. A prohibited gas grill is a violation of a curable nature. The resident needs to be served a “Seven Day Notice of Noncompliance With Opportunity to Cure. This gives the resident seven full days to remove the grill. Failure by the resident to remove the grill is a continuing noncompliance, and the manager then needs to document the presence of the grill after the seven day cure period has expired by way of photos, videos and witnesses. The manager should also consult with an attorney, who will probably recommend that the resident be served a Seven Day Notice of Noncompliance, Notice of Termination. Failure to vacate the premises will then result in an eviction action.
Suppose Rent is Due While the Resident Has the Grill and is Noncompliance?
Our office recommends that you do not accept rent from the resident if the resident is in noncompliance. Accepting rent is tantamount to giving the resident a green light for the month in which rent was accepted and can cause your notice to be voided out.
Self-Help Grill Removal
Our office never recommends that the manager conducts self-help by removing a resident’s personal property, and this could include a gas grill. The resident could accuse the manager of civil theft or even criminal theft. But, what if the Fire Marshall is demanding that the grill is removed and is ready to fine the manager or the manager is aware that the resident has the grill inside the rental unit? Possibly it will be permissible for the manager to remove the grill or at least the propane tank in such emergency circumstances, BUT we advise that you give your attorney a call before taking any self-help measures.
- The Curable Noncompliance Examined PART 1
- THE CURABLE NONCOMPLIANCE EXAMINED PART 2
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION – WHAT IT IS
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION AND THE FULL UNIT
- WORK ORDER COMPANY POLICY AND THE LAW