A house fire is every homeowner’s worst nightmare. Apart from the destruction, which can be incredibly expensive to repair, house fires also cause thousands of injuries and deaths every year. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 27% of all structure fires between 2014 and 2018 occurred in the home. What’s worse, house fires caused 77% of civilian fire deaths and 73% of all reported fire injuries. On average, U.S. Fire Departments responded to more than 350,000 home structure fires every year.

Together, those fires claimed an average of 2,620 lives, caused 11,030 injuries, and produced $7.2 billion in property damage in each of those five years. If you have the right insurance in place, you can recover financially from a house fire. However, no insurance policy in the world can bring back a lost life. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure the smoke detectors in your rental property are working correctly.

Smoke Detectors Work

A house fire can happen for any reason. But the data shows that five different sources are responsible for the majority of all fires: 

  1. Cooking.
  2. Heating.
  3. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment.
  4. Intentional fire setting.
  5. Smoking materials.

Cooking accidents cause the most house fires and fire injuries, while smoking causes most fire-related deaths. Fortunately, a working smoke detector is one of the most effective fire safety tools that exist. 

Not only do these alarms detect smoke, but they also alert inhabitants of potential danger so they can put out the fire or escape to safety. Having a working smoke detector in the home is often the difference between life and death. According to the New York State Department of Health:

  • “Seventy percent of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.”
  • “The presence of a working smoke alarm in a home reduces the risk of dying in a fire by 50%.”

Smoke detectors aren’t a set-it-and-forget-it measure, though. Instead, they require regular inspections to ensure they’re operating correctly. Safety experts suggest homeowners test their alarm system every month and replace smoke detector batteries once per year.

How Many Smoke Detectors Should Your Home Have?

A fast-burning fire can consume a home in as little as five minutes, which doesn’t leave much time to escape once a fire begins. To stay safe, occupants must receive a warning as soon as possible. That’s why homeowners should distribute smoke detectors throughout the house.

In many cases, one or two detectors won’t be enough to provide full protection. The NFPA recommends that homeowners install smoke detectors inside every bedroom, a smoke detector outside of the sleeping area, and a smoke detector on every floor of your home — including the basement. That means a typical two-story, three-bedroom house should have at least five working smoke detectors. How many do you have in your home?

Investment Owners Often Don’t Check Their Property’s Smoke Detectors

In our experience, many investment owners don’t include smoke detectors in their regular maintenance checklist. They either forget, leave inspections up to the tenant, or assume the tenant will notify them when a smoke detector starts beeping to indicate it needs a new battery.

This hands-off attitude puts investment owners at risk. Landlords and property managers have a duty to provide a safe and livable environment for their tenants. That means if landlords and property managers aren’t doing their part to ensure the fire systems work correctly, they could be found liable for damages in the event of a house fire. That would be a very costly lesson you could almost certainly avoid with a little planning and care.

Our Approach to Smoke Detector Maintenance

Over the years, Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew has established a regular smoke detector maintenance approach that helps protect our clients and tenants. Not only do we test the alarm and batteries of every smoke detector in every home in our portfolio, but we also take each smoke detector off the wall to make sure it’s clean, and the wiring is intact. Then, we photograph the smoke detector before reinstalling it and include the images in our owner’s reports. That way, we know every smoke detector’s age in all our homes, and our clients have documentation that they’re performing regular inspections.

Our maintenance team also audits every new home that we begin to manage to ensure there are enough smoke detectors installed to meet the tenant’s needs. If there aren’t enough detectors, our team can install new ones and include them as part of our annual inspections.

Good Property Management is About the Details

Property management companies should do more for their clients than merely signing lease documents and collecting monthly rent payments. Unfortunately, many property management companies don’t do much more than that.

Instead, good property managers commit to operating each of their rentals with a strong sense of professionalism and their client’s best interests firmly in mind. Smoke detector maintenance is an excellent example of how Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew takes the extra step for our clients. We don’t have to remove each smoke detector from the wall when we inspect them, but we do it because it’s the best way to ensure they’re operating correctly. We don’t have to photograph each smoke detector and give the images to our clients. But we do all that because it protects our clients and our tenants.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can take over the burden of property management and enjoy genuinely passive income, we’d love to talk. You can contact Darla directly at (503) 515-3170, or you can fill out the contact form on our website, and we’ll get right back to you. Fire danger is a real risk inside every home. Fortunately, smoke detectors are an effective solution. So, make sure your alarms are in working order. Or, give us a call, and we’ll do the job for you.