Electric car fire risk in rental housing

10 Replies

After reading reports of serious, damaging fires caused by electric car batteries, I'm considering disqualifying potential tenants who have electric cars and putting a clause in my lease prohibiting electric cars and stating that the tenant expressly assumes all risk of damage to the property arising from electric car fires. It's my understanding that these fires are highly unpredictable and there are no reliable prevention measures. Has anyone else taken steps to deal with this risk?

Nope. If you exclude someone or something for every risk out there, your rental pool will be zero. Your unit is much more likely to catch fire from smoking, cooking, candles, or an electrical short.

Exclude smokers. Prohibit candles. Convert wood fireplaces to gas or make them decorative only. Only allow BBQs 20 feet from the home. Require fire extinguishers in the kitchen, laundry room,  water heater room. But don't prohibit electric car owners. 

FYI, if I saw a rental ad and it said no one with an electric vehicle, I'd think the landlord was some  crazy conspiracy theorist.

At least you’ll eliminate the renters that are rich enough to buy electric cars…

Don’t forget to ban gas cars as well as I’m sure you’ll find more homes are burned down by gas cars than electric cars. 

@Bill Brandt  I've read that gas cars catch fire more often than electric cars, but gas cars tend to catch fire when they're involved in accidents, while electric cars catch fire spontaneously when they're parked, so they are more likely to cause harm to the home. Electric car fires are also harder to put out.

@Kay March

Hey Kay, took a while to find non-crash car fires, all the want to talk about is 190,000 car fires per year. The fiery crashes per mile are 19x more gas cars. 

Finally found no-crash car fires.  The 2 older Tesla’s (s&x)are twice as likely to catch fire over gas cars about once every 5,000 owner years. The newer Tesla (model 3) is half has likely as a gas car, about once every 20,000 years. 

“Looking at that specific subset of vehicle fires, the results are quite different. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), the research arm of the insurance-funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Tesla Model S has a non-crash fire claim frequency of 1.7 and 2.0, respectively, for single-motor and dual-motor versions in terms of claims per 10,000 insured vehicle years. The Model X is at 2.2, and the Model 3 is at just 0.4.

For the Model S and Model X, that’s higher than the average non-crash fire claims of just 0.8 across all luxury, sports cars, and luxury SUVs.”

But as mentioned. Compared to cooking, candles and smoking, the car fire isn’t even listed as a cause, even counting all the gas ones. Ban candles and smoking you’ve prevented 60% of the fires, ban cooking and you’re around 98%+  

@Bill Brandt , That's interesting about the Teslas. It's the fires in Chevy Bolts that have been much in the news lately, and there are other electric cars that have had problems with spontaneous fires. Again, it's the fact that these cars tend to catch fire when they're parked that makes them a risk to homes. General Motors has told Bolt owners to park at some distance from their homes and from other cars.

Yeah.  They’re all getting new batteries. It’s probably a great time to buy an older used one. If 80% of the value is in the batteries and you get new ones. Their estimate is $800million or $11k per car. I think LG chem will have to pay most of it. I think they had a Hyundai battery problem as well. It’s like they didn’t think Tesla has a big enough lead.