Landlord Facing Lawsuits Over Property Defects
Victims of an apartment fire in 2009 have filed lawsuits against a Calgary landlord over rental building defects that cost the lives of three tenants and severely injured a fourth. All combined, the lawsuits are requesting nearly $4.5 million dollars in damages.
The landlord was previously fined $90,000 for building code violations when an investigation revealed that the smoke detector may not have been operational, and bars on the windows prevented an easy escape. The fire was allegedly caused from a portable heater.
The sole survivor of the fire claims that she smelled smoke while their was still time for her to escape. She ran to the window in the bedroom where she was sleeping, but discovered there were bars blocking her exit. She was not able to find a way to open the barrier, and lacked tools needed to unscrew the bars. As a result, she experienced carbon monoxide poisoning, and spent months in the hospital.
In additional to blocking the window and the apparent failure to inspect the smoke detector, it is alleged that neither the property manager nor the landlord offered the tenants a tour of the property when they moved in which could have pointed out escape routes in the event of a fire. The property manager is also named in the lawsuits.
The survivor, who is claiming the highest amount of damages of the lawsuits, continues to suffer from her injuries and is no longer able to work. The families of the three tenants who perished have made statements that the lawsuit is not about making money, but rather recouping expenses, and sending a message to other landlords to be more careful with rental inspections.