FIRE DANGERS AT MOVE IN
The electricity is off in apartment, and the new resident is to have it turned on in his name according to the lease. While moving in, boxes are placed on the counter and electric stove top. Children love to play with knobs of course, and the resident’s child turns the stove burner on. No harm done. The electricity is off. The next afternoon, the resident has the electric put in her name, and it is turned on. You guessed it. The unit burns to the ground. Could this have been avoided by the actions of the property manager? To a large extent, yes.
Ideally, an apartment can just sit there vacant with the electricity off. Due to the need for air conditioning to continue to run to avoid mold growth, this is impractical at times. It is important that the property manager coordinates the electric issues along with the resident to avoid confusion, and to avoid situations in which the residents will stay in a unit where the electricity is on in the owner’s name and fail to put it in their name. Failing to follow up to see if in fact the electricity has been put in the resident’s name is a recipe for disaster, and you will find that out 2 months after the resident takes possession you get a $400.00 electric bill.
Should the Electricity Be Shut Off Before Occupancy?
If the electricity is shut off or the order placed for shut off is done prior to the resident’s occupancy, you run the risk that the resident will begin moving into the unit while there is no electric service on. As a force of habit, the resident will switch on light switches or turn on knobs and realize that the electricity is off. The problem is that the switch or knob is not always turned back to the off position. Frequently, children will play with the stove knobs, and since the electric is off, it will go unnoticed if the knob is left in the “on” position. Items such as boxes and fragile goods are often placed on the countertop and stove top during the move-in process, as the furniture has not arrived, and the counter is the only handy or convenient place to put the items. Upon the resident having the electricity turned on, disastrous results can occur.
Requiring Electric To Be On Before Keys Are Given to Resident
One possible way to avoid the fire problem is to withhold the keys until such time as the resident has paid the deposit and the electricity is now on in the resident’s name. This is a sure way to avoid an accidental fire, but could be met with resistance by the resident who may be insistent upon gaining access immediately. We would not want this strategy to be construed as any type of breach of contract by the manager or allow a resident to say that possession was not granted. If you choose this route, we recommend that the resident agrees to this in writing.
If the possession of the unit will be granted to the resident without the requirement that the electricity is turned on or a confirmation thereof, the knobs should be removed and placed in a cabinet out of the reach of children. If possible, place tape over the knobs with a warning that the electric is not on and items should not be placed on the stovetop. Warnings should always be given to the resident regarding electrical safety with instructions not to place items on the stove. We recommend that you prepare a warning notice right away, and make this a part of your move-in procedures. When the keys are given to the resident, the warning should be given as well.
When managing property, if the property manager orders the electricity to be turned on, as is often the case after a resident vacates or a unit has been vacant, it is crucial that an inspection is done first to assure that the stove is in fact off and nothing is placed on the stove. Often when units are being rehabbed between residents, workers will put a tarp on the counter or otherwise use the counter and stovetop for flammable items. It is bad enough that a fire can be caused by a resident who possibly did not know the dangers. Now that you know, you have a responsibility to make sure you are never the one at fault.
- 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