Health and Safety Receiverships are utilized for a wide arrange of distressed properties, including fire damaged properties. Fires may ignite outside or inside a property for a number of different reasons. Natural wildfires, electrical hazards, smoking and candles, just to name a few. Sometimes the conditions on the property are already so severe (i.e. hoarding, ill-maintained structures, faulty wiring) that the conditions themselves cause a fire. Other times, a perfectly suited property becomes badly damaged by the flames, heat, smoke and water after a fire. Fire damage causes properties to become structurally unsound and compromised and at a risk of collapsing, making it dangerous for anyone to be onsite. Firefighters may have cut holes in walls looking for hidden flames or may have cut holes in the roof to release heat and smoke. Fires often re-ignite even after appearing to be extinguished. Hazardous materials and structural damage pose serious threats to the health and safety of the occupants and surrounding community.

Fires are almost always unexpected, and most homeowners do not know how to safeguard their home from a fire nor are they prepared for a fire’s consequences. Some insurance policies do not cover all damages caused by a fire, leaving the homeowner responsible for rehabilitating the property to its former state. Some homeowners do not have the means, time or desire to remedy the damage caused by a fire leaving the property to become abandoned blight in the neighborhood. Properties subject to Health and Safety Receiverships are often referred to the City by local fire departments who are routinely called to properties with preexisting fire damage or when the property is currently in a fire hazardous state.

A Health and Safety Receiver can be temporarily appointed by the court to remedy health and safety hazards of fire damaged properties which have been disregarded by property owners. A Court-Appointed Health and Safety Receiver will determine the proper course of action to take to ensure the property is safe and inhabitable. A Receiver is tasked with guaranteeing the standards for human habitation are met, which includes at a minimum, that heating, water, plumbing, ventilation, electricity, and storage are up to code. This includes safeguarding the property from excessive trash, debris, and overgrown vegetation to ensure that law and fire departments and medical aid services can safety enter the property in an emergency. A Receiver can also relocate the property owner while rehab is under way. Alternatively, it may be that the most cost-efficient option is to demolish the structure if the fire damage is so extensive and rehabilitation proves cost-prohibitive. Health and Safety Receiverships protect the health, safety and welfare of occupants and surrounding community.

Richardson “Red” Griswold is appointed by courts across California to act as a Health & Safety Code Receiver for fire damaged properties. For more information, please contact Griswold Law at (858) 481-1300 or rgriswold@griswoldlawsandiego.com.