Fireplace Question

7 Replies

So I have a question for all of you seasoned landlords. My wife and I have differing opinions on this, so we decided that BP will be our answer.

On one of our rental properties, the tenants asked us if they could use the wood burning fireplace to help heat the house. We have only had the house for 6 months and didn't check out the fireplace when we bought it.

We went ahead and sent a fireplace company out for an inspection and they came back with $2000 in repairs to get it working.

My question to you all is, would you fix it? The house is in a C- to D area and rents for $875/month.

Thanks in Advance!

I personally don't like fireplaces and if a property had one, I would say immediately when showing the house that the fireplace 'wasn't functional'.

For your situation, my answer would be no. Do not invest the money. You will not get a good return on your investment and you could be inviting trouble.

Nine of our 15 rental units have wood burning fireplaces. We maintain them and they work fine. They are actually a good selling point. But we tell our tenants they are for enjoyment use only, for ambience, and not to be used as a heat source. These are B & C properties, with responsible renters.

To be proactive, we teach our tenants fireplace safety and monitor their use. If you are not careful, tenants can and will burn almost anything in them. If you have very responsible tenants and they know how to use a fireplace safely, burn only seasoned firewood, do not leave the fire unattended, use fireplace screens and dispose of the ashes appropriately, it works. Be sure to use chimney caps to prevent burning debris from getting out and animals/weather from getting in.

When using the fireplace as a heat source, the chimney requires more frequent cleaning and your risk of misuse increases. In a C- to D type property, it is almost a given that you will have problems because of the type of tenant those properties attract. 

Also, if using a fireplace as a heat source, the tenants will need to store greater quantities of wood. Storing wood safely and properly is a factor in itself. How often do you see people stacking wood next to the foundation and siding of a building? That attracts moisture and vermin. Not good. Storing wood the wrong way invites pest problems. To do it properly, you need to designate a wood shed or other safe place. Some states and/or municipalities also have regulations about buying, storing and using firewood in the home.

every landlord in my area blocks off fire places for insurance and tenant safety

for sure agree @Dawn A.  and @Marcia Maynard  

no way no how 

Why wasn't the fireplace inspected? Whether you planned to let tenants use it or not, finding out the repairs it needed before purchase would have gave you more negotiation room probably.

But I agree with the others--do not fix it. It's not worth it. That is, of course, if you didn't advertise the rental as having a fireplace! If you did, they are paying for a place that has a working fireplace and you're not providing that feature.

Plus, $2K sounds awfully high. What exactly is wrong with it to cost that much?

Here is some good information from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs about firewood and its use in the home.

You guys are awesome! Thanks for the help. Several things were brought up that I didn't even think about. You made my decision easy!

Can anyone tell me how you can block off a fireplace? I have a SFH with a wood fireplace that I'm prepping to put up for rent. But I would like to get the fireplace blocked, and I can't seem to find any good info online.

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