Judge Says Landlords’ Close Call Too Much to Ignore

by | Apr 22, 2019 | Rental Property Management Tips

The landlords of an apartment building in Oshawa were fined $30,000 after firefighters helped a blind tenant escape during a fire. The building had no functioning smoke detectors and other safety concerns. According to a report, the judge found this close call too much to ignore.

Unfortunately, this is not the only example where tenants were placed in peril. Last fall, the landlords of a house in Oshawa were fined $30,000 after a fire that claimed the lives of four residents, including two children. The house had no functioning smoke detectors. Recently a landlord in St. Catharines was fined for failing to provide carbon monoxide detectors and an Edmonton landlord was fined for a lack of smoke detectors. A Calgary landlord was fined tens of thousands of dollars for the failure to provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

These fines reflect the seriousness of the risk imposed on tenants for failing to provide these simple protections.

Avoid this unnecessary income loss — and the risk of injury or death — by following the law when it comes to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Local fire officials can provide how-to guidance for property owners. Generally, smoke alarms must be installed on each level and outside all sleeping areas. Some firefighters suggest placing additional smoke alarms inside each bedroom. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed outside all sleeping areas.

The batteries on the alarms must be checked regularly. Landlords can do this during routine property inspections, or require tenants to run a simple test every month or so.

Smoke and carbon detectors need to be replaced periodically, typically every 10 years, and that should be included in the property maintenance plan. Check instructions on the equipment for more information. Allowing the detectors to go beyond their expiration dates can cause false alarms when dust build-up blocks the sensors. This is extremely dangerous because it trains tenants to ignore the signals.

In addition to the detectors, landlords should educate tenants on the available escape routes, and what to do in the event of an emergency. For instance, tenants should form a group outside so firefighters easily can get a head count.

All access routes should be clearly marked and inspected regularly for hazards that could slow residents’ escape.

Tenant contact information including the number of occupants and pets must be up-to-date and easy to access.

Prohibit or restrict unsafe activities like smoking, burning candles, outdoor grilling, and improper use of extension cords.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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