Ask Lucas 004: Fireworks, Tenants and Safety, Oh My!
Vickie from Florida is concerned that her tenants might ignite fireworks in celebration of Independence Day, but she doesn’t have anything in her lease restricting it. What can she do?
Lucas: Hey,everyone, this is Lucas Hall from Landlordology and Cozy. Welcome to the fourth episode of “Ask Lucas”. It’s a bite-sized Q&A show where I answer your questions about landlording, real estate investing, property management and really anything having to do with rental properties.
I am a do-it-yourself landlord and I figured out how to make landlording profitable and fun. Can you believe it? I want to teach you how. In each of these episodes, I’ll be featuring our brand new voicemail question from someone just like you. Let’s get started.
This week we have Vicky from Florida and she is calling in about fireworks and tenants — do they mix? Let’s hear what she has to say.
Vicky: Hi Lucas, this is Vicky from Florida. My question is, I have tenants that are going to set off fireworks on July 4th and there’s nothing in their lease about them not doing it and just wondered what you thought about that.
Lucas: Hi Vicky. Thank you so much for your question. This is really great because the Fourth of July is huge in the United States and fireworks are so prevalent. Every year, hundreds, perhaps even thousands of fires are started through careless acts of fireworks and alcohol mixing together, a lot of which our tenants just wanting to have fun.
There’s a couple things to consider. 1) Do you even want to allow fireworks on the property, on your rental property? Personally, I don’t because I think that there’s a fine line between sparklers and explosive M-80s, things that can cause severe damage and fire to the property. In my lease, I actually specify that they can’t have any sort of explosives or fireworks on the premise which includes the yard and the actual building or any sheds or anything like that.
It doesn’t stop them from doing it because they’re going to do it if they want to but at least it’s a lease violation at that point and if the issue is severe enough, I can actually terminate the lease because of it. However, if it’s not in your lease, then you just have to go by whatever the county or city ordinances are. In my state, people can have sparklers and any kind of fountain fireworks that shoot up no more than six feet which means that pretty ones are allowed but bottle rockets and really heavy duty explosive ones are not. That would then become some sort of a law violation and you could also terminate the lease for that.
Let’s assume these are great tenants and you’ve never had any problem and you just want them to be safe. In that’s the case, then it’s always great to send them a quick email, maybe a day or two before the Fourth of July or the morning of, and then just remind them that they’re responsible for any fire or damage to the property due to negligence or fireworks. You would highly recommend and hope that they would go somewhere else to light the fireworks off, not your property.
When I send that email out, I usually try to give them a list of the things in the neighborhood or the town that they could do instead of lighting off fireworks in my driveway. For example, I might say, hey, the local county firehouse is setting off fireworks and they’re going to be huge and big and it’s awesome. You can get funnel cakes and ice cream and all that, so go take your family.
In addition to that list, I just try to give them some general safety tips. For example, I try to make it fun and amusing for them while they’re reading this because it’s a disciplinary email but at the same time it’s like, hey, I’m your landlord, I want you to have fun so don’t jump from the roof with sparklers in your hand because the gutters probably have leaves in them, or don’t put a firecracker down the chimney or don’t chase around wild animals with a bottle rocket in your hand — things like that. They tend to get a kick out of it and they also think, okay, my landlord has a sense of humor so maybe I’ll respect him a little bit more.
The general idea is that you just want them to be safe. You want them to have fun. You want them to enjoy living there and you don’t want to seem like a jerk. Don’t act like a jerk. You want them to not have giant parties and mix a ton of alcohol and fireworks and environments where they might actually do something incredibly stupid just to impress a girl or a guy. Anyway, if you can, send them off your property to have fun but if you can’t do that, just remind them to be safe. That’s all.
Thanks for your question. I really hope that helps. Happy Independence Day!
“Ask Lucas” is brought to you by Cozy which provides end-to-end property management software for landlords. Personally, I use Cozy for all my properties. I use it to accept applications, screen my tenants, and then if I like them, I’ll sign them to a lease and automatically collect their rent online. Cozy will help you automate your rental properties in no time so you can get back to spending time with your family or doing anything else that you love more than driving to a rental property to collect a rent check.
Check it out at Cozy.co.