Tenants playing with fire (literally)

Metal Dumpsters
Metal Dumpsters

This is a true story about a fire that happened a few years back.  I had a 6 unit apartment building up for sale.  I had a conditional offer on the building.  One of the clauses was the building inspection clause.  It was set up for a particular day.  The morning of the inspection, I was doing a drive by of the building, to make sure it all looked good.  At first when I drove by it looked good, then I noticed something unusual.  Next to the building was the chard remains of our garbage box.  Yes, that is right, a few hours before the potential buyer would be inspecting the property, it had the burnt remains of the garbage box.  It fortunately did not burn down the building, however, it did melt a bunch of the siding on the side.  I had to spring into action.

We were able to find a junk removal guy willing to come over right away and clean up the mess.  I was not able to do anything with the siding until after the inspection happened.

I interviewed some of the tenants to see if anyone knew what had happened.  I could not find any witnesses to the incident, so we figured it must have been some kids, or someone threw out a smoldering cigarette.

We got things looking as good as possible, and I called my realtor to let him know what had happened, that way we could alert the potential buyer.

Surprisingly the inspection went OK, we never did complete the deal with this particular potential buyer, part of it might have been there impression of the building with a bit of fire damage on it or thoughts of this being a regular occurrence in the area.

The unfortunate reality is that if you have a dumpster or garbage box on the side of a building, it is important to keep a close eye on it.  Make sure it is emptied regularly and that someone is in place to contact you if it is over flowing with items like mattresses or couches, and wooden furniture.

I am grateful for the property manager I had in place that helped me with this situation.  At the time, I will have to admit It caused me some stress.

The interesting part about property management / being a landlord, is that surprises are part of the business.  I have also noticed the more interesting “situations” you deal with, the easier it gets to deal with situations.

One last note, metal dumpsters are more fire proof than the wooden garbage box I had.

Michael P Currie

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