Fire Escapes and Renters: How to Handle Your Property Manager

There are no fire escape maintenance tips for renters, because that is usually not your job. Landlord/tenant law requires property managers to provide safe and habitable premises to renters, including effective fire escapes. Therefore, the best approach to how to maintain your fire escape if you rent in San Francisco, CA is communication with your property manager. Here is a how-to guide if you find your property manager does not adequately maintain the fire escape:

  • Know your property manager’s responsibilities: Start from a place of knowledge by knowing local landlord requirements for fire escapes. Property managers must comply with statutes and local codes, keep rentals in good repairs, maintain heating and cooling and conduct fire safety checks. Neglected fire escapes come up in fire safety checks, so if your property manager leaves the fire escape in bad condition, they violate the law. If you find a fire escape flaw, alert your landlord. If they do not repair it, contact the housing authority, or order the repair yourself and subtract the cost from your rent.
  • Satisfy your duties: As a renter, you also have responsibilities. These include keeping batteries in your smoke alarms, cleaning chimneys and avoiding hazards like leaving appliances turned on or storing combustible materials in your rental. If fires arise from your negligence, your landlord is not at fault, so minimize your risks. Renters are also required to alert landlords to repair issues, including any arising with fire escapes. If you see something that looks off with a fire escape, tell your landlord right away. When repair technicians arrive, cooperate with them, and offer flexibility if they need to access the fire escape from your apartment.
  • Keep it all in writing: The way to communicate repair issues is in writing. Text pictures of fire escape damage with your request to repair, or attach photos to emails when you report a problem. Keep copies of all communication, including letters, emails, pictures and text messages. If you make a telephone call, document the date, time and contents of the conversation. This record helps you if your landlord fails to follow through with repairs.
  • Prepare for the worst: Sometimes, no matter what you do, your property manager may not repair fire escapes. If this is the case, you need a worst-case scenario game plan. Start by reporting the violation to the housing authority. Request that they perform a fire safety inspection, as that will reveal the shortcomings. Withhold rent until repairs are complete, as your property manager failed to provide you a safe place to live. If nothing improves and you find a better option, take it and move out. Even if you are on a lease, you can cancel it if your home is not safe.

If you want to know how to maintain your fire escape if you rent, contact your property manager and refer them to us. Great Escape Fire Escape Service offers fire escape inspections and repairs in San Francisco, CA, and we can make your home or apartment building safe again. Call us today to learn more fire escape maintenance tips for renters’ safety and schedule an inspection.

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