apartment, property management, real estate

Fires and Codes

All property owners fear new codes and regulations because of cost.  Unfortunately some can not be avoided and are necessary changes to keep occupants safe.   Retrofitting a building with sprinklers is daunting but should it be required no matter what the cost is?  How about alarms?  Some defects may not be able to be changed as in the high rises in England only having one stair case in high rises.  I can’t imagine any builder allowing that but it seems to be common.

landlord, property management, real estate

Building codes

Court freezes Portland landlord’s assets in lawsuit over fire that killed six

The $1.7 million worth of property will probably be needed to pay damages to a victim’s family, says the judge in a case that reveals new details about Maine’s deadliest fire in 40 years.

The heavily damaged building remains at 20 Noyes St. in Portland. Sworn statements from a former tenant and two fire survivors indicate there were no smoke detectors in one side of the duplex and a bookcase blocked a back stairway, forcing tenants to jump from a second-story window.

The heavily damaged building remains at 20 Noyes St. in Portland. Sworn statements from a former tenant and two fire survivors indicate there were no smoke detectors in one side of the duplex and a bookcase blocked a back stairway, forcing tenants to jump from a second-story window. Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

A Superior Court judge has ruled that the wife and children of a Rockland man who was one of six people killed in last month’s apartment house fire in Portland likely would receive a judgment against the building’s landlord. The judge ordered a freeze on $1.7 million of the landlord’s real estate assets in Cumberland County in case they’re needed to pay out any future claims.

The preliminary ruling is based partly on statements by fire survivors who said the building lacked working smoke alarms and had a blocked exit, and on details about how Steven Summers suffered severe burns and was conscious for several days before he died.

The judge’s order was issued Tuesday without a response from the defendant, landlord Gregory Nisbet, who has 21 days to appeal. It does not represent a final judgment in the civil lawsuit, which was filed Nov. 21.

“It is more likely than not that in this action the plaintiff will recover judgment, including interest and costs, in an amount not less than $1.7 million,” Justice Joyce Wheeler wrote in the order.

The suit is the first to result from Maine’s deadliest fire in 40 years. The fast-moving blaze that started early on Nov. 1 remains under investigation.

Sworn statements contained in court records from a former tenant and two people who survived the fire indicate there were no smoke detectors installed at 20 Noyes St. and a bookcase blocked a back stairway, forcing survivors to jump from a second-story window.

Read More: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/12/05/court-freezes-landlords-assets-after-portland-fire-that-killed-six/

apartment, landlord, real estate

Landlord Negligence


A 2010 fire on 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, left five people dead inside a warren of illegally divided apartments. CreditJohn Marshall Mantel for The New York Times

Late one January night in 2010, someone doused a roll of toilet paper in paint thinner in a building in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and lit it, and five immigrants from Guatemala were killed.

The horror was compounded when investigators found that several of the victims were trapped inside illegally partitioned apartments. Prosecutors filed charges against not just the man accused of setting the fire but also the landlord, a rare step.

Rarer still was the outcome: The landlord, Vasilios Gerazounis, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide, prosecutors said on Monday. In February, he is scheduled to be sentenced to one to three years in prison.

Seasoned advocates for tenants and landlords said they could not recall the last time a landlord went to prison over a fire death.

“I can’t remember it happening,” said Edward Josephson, litigation director for Legal Services NYC, who has fought for tenants for 26 years.

“I’ve never heard of it happening and I’ve been doing this 28 years,” said Frank Ricci, director of government affairs for the Rent Stabilization Association, a landlords’ group.

Mr. Gerazounis’s real estate company will pay $1 million restitution to the family of a girl who was dropped from a third-floor window and landed on her head, fracturing her skull; she had severe developmental injuries.

Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/nyregion/brooklyn-landlord-pleads-guilty-to-negligent-homicide-in-2010-fire.html?_r=0

apartment, Business, landlord, property, property management, real estate


I’m not a fireman or an insurance adjuster – just a lowly property manager – so don’t quote me on this.  I don’t like sprinklers in residential units.  I’m sure they are necessary in large buildings but they can really be a pain.  I’m not trying to put a price on safety but 1) they are very expensive to install, 2) they can be expensive to monitor and upkeep, 3) in single family houses the plumbing often runs through the attic and in the winter the pipes can freeze, 4) if they are installed in a single family house and the house is vacated in the winter the whole system can freeze up, 5) if there is a small fire, the sprinklers can cause more damage than the fire itself, 6) on a multiple floor building a broken sprinkler (or one set off by accident) will not only flood that apartment but the ones below causing a huge mess, 7) in small properties (single homes and small apartment buildings) many plumbers and service techs are not familiar with them and do not know how to service them or deal with them at all, and 8) many single family owners end up disconnecting them for all the reasons above.

I’m not anti-sprinklers.  I just think we need to approach them with caution in light residential units.