For landlords, inexpensive amenities can boost a unit’s appeal to new renters and renters’ desire to stay longer or become repeat customers. One such amenity that many landlords consider is a fireplace — either indoor or outdoor. Should you add a fireplace to your rental property? What can you do to ensure safety and beauty? And where should you start? Read on to learn the answers to a few of your questions.
What Are the Benefits of a Rental Fireplace?
Fireplaces in rental properties may help your bottom line. They give a luxurious feeling to any room and represent the cozy warmth of home. For vacation rentals, a fireplace can be especially important if it looks great in listing photos and sets the unit apart from other competing options.
A fireplace can be a cost-effective way to add an amenity in a unit that does not have much space or many luxuries. Modern fireplaces often require little or no floor space and can be installed just about anywhere. They’re also reasonably inexpensive to operate and maintain. And today’s units are often very user-friendly.
What Are the Drawbacks?
The biggest risk of installing a fireplace in any home occupied by other people is the fire danger. Improper use by renters increases this risk. Short-term renters, especially, will always be unfamiliar with your fireplace and what to do or not do. Tenants may use the wrong materials, fail to keep the fireplace clean, or use incorrect settings. The landlord will be liable both for repairs and for any injuries.
The landlord must also spend money and effort on the fireplace. You’ll need to budget for proper installation, regular maintenance, and fixing issues or replace the fireplace when it breaks — which could be sooner than expected due to tenant misuse.
How Can You Boost Fire Safety?
If you want a fireplace in your rental, you can do several things to keep your residents safe. First, choose a style with lower risk. Gas and electric fireplaces are often the best choices for rental properties, as these are simple to turn on and off and produce the least amount of flammable material. Avoid high-maintenance wood fireplaces if possible.
Make the surrounding area as safe as possible as well. Use proper, nonflammable materials around the fireplace itself. Avoid placing fabrics like curtains and upholstered chairs in the immediate area. The choice of flame-resistant furniture in the room as a whole can help reduce fire danger.
Some landlords put the fireplace outside to better control flammable items around it. Use flame-resistant hardscape materials like stone, brick, and tile instead of fabrics and woods. Install the fireplace in a protected location with less wind. And assess the home’s exterior for durability against fire — a process known as house hardening.
What Else Can Protect You?
Aside from adding physical protection, check your insurance to be certain you have proper coverage for a fireplace. Landlords should require their tenants to have renters insurance, provide a fire extinguisher, and perform routine maintenance on the extinguisher, all smoke detectors, and the fireplace.
Because you chose a simple type of fireplace, renters will have an easier time using it safely. But include written instructions near the unit to demonstrate safe operation — and to spell out what not to do. Put these reminders in tenant communication or contracts as well.
Where Can You Learn More?
Want to know more about adding a fireplace to a short-term or long-term rental property? Start by meeting with the fireplace pros at Alpine Fireplaces. We’ll work with you to identify the right fireplace for any investment property and help you give your renters the best experience possible. Call today to make an appointment.