Candles have been around for centuries and provide a lovely soft light that improves the ambiance in most spaces. Many people also enjoy scented candles for the pleasant aroma and stress-relieving qualities they have, but can you burn candles in your apartment?
Generally, you cannot have candles in apartments. However, this is not due to any specific law or civil code. Instead, it is usually a clause that many landlords include in a lease agreement to reduce the risk of damage to the rental unit.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the reasons that many landlords do not allow candles to be used on their properties. We will also examine a few other prohibited items that are usually included in a rental agreement, proper candle safety, and how these leases generally function. If you have ever wondered why you can’t have candles in your apartment, read on.
Reasons Behind Banning Candles
Despite the soothing light they produce and the pleasant aromas the release, candles can be dangerous, especially if you are not careful. After all, they are open flames, and some of the statistics about the potential damage they cause every year to make a pretty good case for landlords banning their use in rental properties.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, in the United States between 2014 and 2018, fire departments responded to 7,610 home structure fires resulting from the occupants burning candles. The same source reports that each year, on average, fires resulting from candles account for 81 deaths, 677 injuries, and $278 million in property damages.
The National Fire Prevention Association also reports that, on average, 21 candle induced fires are reported every day in the United States, with Christmas being the peak season for candle fires.
Another source, the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department of Maryland, reports that candles were responsible for 3% of all fires reported in the United States and 3% of all fire-related deaths. However, another factor made these candle fires particularly dangerous.
Many people enjoy burning candles in their bedrooms as they lay in bed. This practice makes these fires even more deadly. The same source reported that 36% of these fires originating in the bedroom accounted for 32% of the associated deaths and 47% of the associated injuries.
These numbers alone would give any property owner second thoughts about allowing candles in rental units.
A Legally Binding Agreement
As mentioned earlier, there is no specific law that bans burning candles in apartments. Rather this is detailed in the lease agreement that both landlords and tenants sign before beginning the rental period.
Besides the basics of the landlord/tenant relationship that are laid out, like the length of stay, price of rent, and deposit arrangement, this is the document that allows a landlord to clearly outline their rules for and expectations of the tenant. There are often several clauses in the rental agreement that allow the landlord to produce a scenario that reduces the risk of damage or destruction of their property.
A no-candle clause is a common example of these pre-determined terms of service. Along with banning candles, a variety of other clauses are regularly incorporated into a rental agreement. Many landlords won’t rent to pet owners or smokers for the same reason: a perceived increase in the risk of damage to their property. This is the same reason that many landlords also do not allow tenants to burn incense in their units.
A rental agreement is a legally binding contract, so it is imperative that, as a tenant, you thoroughly read and understand the entirety of your lease before you sign it. Pouring over the pages of fine print can be exhausting, but it is a necessary part of being a responsible tenant.
Most leases also include in the no-candle clause that “any property damage resulting in non-compliance will be the tenant’s responsibility.” So, while breaking the rules and burning a candle in your rental unit may not get you evicted, if there is a fire, you will be almost guaranteed to bear the brunt of the financial obligation.
If the worst-case scenario happens and the building burns down, it is not only you that will be affected. Neighbors in the surrounding units may lose their possessions as well, and this may amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages you are responsible for, not to mention the potential for injury and loss of life.
Enjoying Candles Safely
While the majority of landlords will include a clause banning candles in their rental units, if there is no explicit wording in the rental agreement barring you from burning candles, then you are free to do so. It is also worth noting that if your landlord did not include one of these clauses, they are not allowed to try to retroactively enforce this rule.
That being said, just because you are legally allowed to burn candles in your apartment doesn’t mean that you should take this practice lightly. The statistics speak for themselves, and candles do cause fires and loss of life, so if you are going to enjoy these soothing light sources, it is best to do so safely as possible.
The following are some basic guidelines you should always follow whenever burning candles in your dwelling:
- Never leave a lit candle unattended. You should always make sure that a candle is completely extinguished before leaving a room. Remember to check to see that the ember is out, and the candle is no longer smoking.
- Always be sure that there is nothing flammable near a burning candle. This includes furniture, drapes, and clothing. Keeping flammables at least 12-inches from a lit candle is a good rule of thumb.
- Be extra careful burning candles if you have children or pets. They can easily knock over a lit candle causing an accidental fire that can have devastating consequences.
- Avoid placing candles in drafty locations because these gusts of wind can cause uneven burning that can increase the risk of fire.
- Never move a candle while it is burning, and the wax is melted.
- Be careful when lighting candles and make sure long hair and loose clothing are out of reach of the flames.
- Use sturdy candle holders that will not easily fall over.
- Avoid using candles in bedrooms or places where people will fall asleep and leave burning candles unattended. Always put out all the candles before going to sleep.
- Do not rely on candles for light during power outages. Make sure you have flashlights and extra batteries for this purpose.
One final bit of advice. Many people enjoy the scented candles that come in glass jars, and some folks think since the flame is contained in the jar, there is no risk of fire from this type of candle. However, if the candle burns down long enough, the glass itself can get so hot that it will cause combustion in surrounding objects. So make sure not to burn your candles down to the base and always keep an eye on open flames.
Odds are, if you are living in an apartment, you are not allowed to burn candles. If you are unsure, go back and reread your rental agreement and find out whether or not your landlord included a no-candle clause. If they did, it is best to abide by the legally binding agreement you signed. If they didn’t, feel free to light a candle; just remember to be cautious and follow the candle safety practices we outlined.