Landlord 4th of July Survival Guide

It’s that time of year again when Americans celebrate their independence.

Landlords and tenants all across the country are getting ready to fire up their grills — and their fireworks. Unfortunately, what’s fun for tenants can often be a headache for landlords.

Because this 4th is on a Friday, you can assume some tenants will be partying all weekend long.

Many states have firework bans, due to the danger of burns and fires. Apartment complexes in states with firework bans often send out notices urging tenants to follow the law and letting them know they don’t condone fireworks on their property. It’s not too late to let your tenants know the rules.

But keep your expectations in check. Laws don’t always stop people from celebrating in the way they feel necessary. So you want to be aware of what might be happening on your grounds this weekend. If you openly allow fireworks (and even if you don’t) you want to think about providing fire extinguishers, water hoses or even buckets of water and maybe a bucket to collect the discharged fireworks. Otherwise, you may end up with a fire on your hands, or spend all next week picking up discharged fireworks from all over the parking lot and grounds.

Fireworks pose a special hazard to children and pets. Urge tenants to take the necessary precautions. In some cases, parents can face criminal charges for child endangerment if they permit their children to use fireworks. Pets should probably just be left inside where they are safe, even though the noise will likely send them into hiding (or jumping a fence if left in an outdoor yard). Obviously, you can’t force someone to leave their dog inside, but if the dog is at least leashed, most problems should be avoidable. It’s very common for an animal to get spooked by the fireworks and take off running. Many shelters report significant increases in lost pets on days following the 4th.

Expect the common areas that contain pools and barbeques to be extra popular this weekend. Probably a good idea to do a quick little walk through these areas to make sure everything is functioning properly and safe for tenants. Grilling with an open flame is always going to have safety concerns. It may be wise to discourage your tenants from grilling on their own balconies, if you don’t already ban it. It’s much safer to keep tenants grilling in a common area already set up for such a fire hazard.

What is just as popular as BBQ on the 4th? Alcohol. Be aware that this is going to be a popular drinking weekend and that also implies lots of partying. You’re going to have to be firm about your open drinking policies and anticipate tenants drinking in the common areas regardless of whether it’s banned or not. Alcohol and swimming is usually a bad combo. Besides the fact that spilled alcohol can throw off the chemical levels in your pool, swimming is dangerous for people who are intoxicated.

Drinking by day often leads to parties at night, and that means noise complaints. Encourage tenants to be mindful of those around them by drinking responsibly and not being rowdy all night.

Knowing your tenants and the property well is a great strength to have, and that will help you prevent most problems you face as a landlord — and maybe even allow you a few hours of free time to enjoy the 4th of July.

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