The money you pay for your rental unit covers a variety of expenses. In addition to paying for a place to live, your rent may include hot water, a parking space, extra storage and maintenance. Renting an apartment in Georgia instead of owning your residence often means you are not responsible for groundskeeping, cleaning of common areas or improvements on the property.
What you may forget is that your rental agreement provides you with certain rights, among which is the right to live in a place where your landlord takes every reasonable precaution for your safety and wellbeing. However, living in an apartment building means dealing with many variables and unknowns. Despite your own caution, your safety often depends on the caution of your neighbors and the diligence of your landlord, especially where the risk of fire is concerned.
Your landlord's responsibility
Most apartment fires result from carelessness on the part of tenants. In fact, cooking accidents alone account for about half of all residential fires. If your neighbors smoke, use candles or are careless about any open flame, the chances of a fire in your building increase. However, even if you live near negligent neighbors, your landlord may play a significant role in your chances of escaping a fire without injury. Some basic safety precautions your landlord should make include the following:
- Enforcing Georgia fire code regulations regarding grills and open flames
- Installing and routinely inspecting smoke detectors
- Providing fire extinguishers within easy reach of tenants
- Ensuring gas and electrical appliances are up to code and working properly
- Keeping exits and hallways clear of debris and clutter than may hinder your escape
You and those who share your unit may wish to practice your escape plan to ensure you are familiar with the fastest, safest way out of the building. If you discover anything you feel is a fire hazard or prevents your safe escape, you should report it to your landlord and follow up to see if he or she resolved the issue.
Early detection of fire and clear escape routes can save lives and reduce the chances that you or others in your building will suffer devastating or fatal injuries in a fire. However, if a fire in your apartment building results in disfiguring burns, damaging smoke inhalation and other injuries, you may have a challenge ahead in determining who is responsible. A skilled attorney will have the resources to help you maximize your claim for compensation.