Is the Landlord Responsible for East End Toronto Couple Who Lost Their Lives in Fire? 'No Properly Installed Smoke Alarms'
The lead paragraph on the CP24 site read: "The owner of an East End Toronto home where two people died in a fatal fire last week has been charged."
The Headline on CTV news website read: "Landlord charged after house fire kills two".
The opening line from Newstalk 1010 read: "The homeowner of a house that burst into flames, killing two of the residents, has been charged."
I suppose we all understand the Landlord is innocent until proven guilty. That said, I can't find a single article that covers the tragic death of this couple without mentioning something about the Landlord "facing charges of failure to provide, install and maintain smoke alarms."
He may get a fair trial, but with the amount of media attention this has garnered, he's already been found guilty by most people on the street.
Did anyone bother to ask these 3 simple questions?
Did the Landlord ensure there were working smoke alarms when he first rented the property to these tenants?
Did the Tenants ever test the smoke alarms? Or tell the Landlord the alarms were broken?
Did the Tenants disable the smoke alarms deliberately - or fail to install a new battery when the old one died?
Adrian Morrow of the Globe wrote: "Fire officials say the house had no properly installed smoke alarms: Firefighters found an upstairs alarm buried under a pile of clothes, while the main-floor unit contained nothing more than an empty wall bracket."
Doesn't the empty wall bracket suggest that there was an alarm there at one time? Where did it go? Does anyone think the Landlord removed it? If not, then who did? Furthermore, if there were an alarm buried under a pile of clothes on the second floor, how did it get there?
Landlords and Toronto Real Estate Investors Should be Losing Sleep Over This!
The Ontario Fire Code says that as an owner, you must install a smoke alarm on every level of a dwelling and outside of every sleeping area. Failure to do so could result in a maximum $50,000 fine, per unit.
The Ontario Fire Code also has rules for Tenants. It's against the law to disable a smoke alarm. The fine? $235.
I'd like to hear from the Ontario Fire Marshalls Office, just where do we draw the line for responsibility in tragic situations like this? It's pretty clear that a Landlord who fails to provide a fire-safe home is breaking the law (this owner is also being charged with unapproved/unsafe electrical wiring and failing to provide fire doors to separate two units).
But what about tenants who remove smoke alarms because they hate the nuisance alarms from kitchen areas, or steamy showers?
Just how far does a responsible Landlord have to go to protect human life - and satisfy his/her obligations under the law?