Someone I know was fined $5,000 last year for failing to ensure that there were working smoke detectors in a rental unit that he owned. At the time the tenants first occupied his unit, the smoke detectors were working and he never knew otherwise. Later, during a random door to door check by the local fire department, it was discovered that the smoke detectors were no longer working and bam, a $5,000 fine was levied against the owner even though it was the tenants who had disabled the alarms. He’s lucky as he could have been fined up to $50,000.
Most fire departments in Ontario have a zero-tolerance policy toward non-compliance issues with the Ontario Fire Code. Effective March 1, 2006, it became law for all Ontario homes to have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas in every single family, multi-unit, semi-detached and town home, whether owner-occupied or rented. According to a pamphlet handed out by the Collingwood Fire Department, “owners must show due diligence in their responsibilities and confirm that all residential occupancies under their control shall have their smoke alarms tested every three (3) months and when new tenants initially occupy a unit.” It goes on to say, “It is an accepted practice to have the occupant sign a log book or other to confirm that there was an operable smoke alarm on a given date. These log books must be made available upon request by Fire Department personnel.” It should also be noted that it is a tenants responsibility to contact their landlord immediatley if they suspect there is a problem with their smoke alarms. Once installed, tenants cannot remove the batteries or tamper with the alarm in any way and if they do so, they could receive a ticket as well.
Simply make up a log containing the address, owners name, unit number, date of inspection and have the tenant sign as well. Alternatively, here is a sample of a more detailed form you can print out and use. Smoke alarms do save lives and this legislation exists for good reason. As a landlord myself, I like the idea of checking the unit and detectors every three months. It’s good policy and good practice.
Marg Scheben-Edey is a Broker with RE/MAX four seasons realty limited, Brokerage in beautiful Collingwood, ON. With three decades of experience, Marg is a leader in the local real estate marketplace and is ready to help guide both Buyers and Sellers in achieving their real estate goals. Email Marg