Fire prevention and safety is a must for every landlord.
Fires can be caused by cooking, smoking or electrical and heating failures. There are certain guidelines that every landlord should follow to ensure proper fire safety.
Important fire safety practices to help you protect your investment property:
- The first and perhaps most important rule is that you must comply with the local fire code. Learn the relevant sections of the Ontario Fire Code so that you are aware of what your responsibilities are. Be aware of anything that might be a fire hazard so that you can spot trouble before it happens.
- I recommend that if you have three suites or more that you have a local fire inspector conduct a site visit and make recommendations for improvements.
- You must install fire alarms and smoke detectors as per the fire code. Ideally your smoke alarms should be interconnected so that if one goes off, they all do. I recommend getting the strobe kind (with the long-lasting lithium batteries) so that you can see the dazzling lights in the dark smoke. You are required by law to test the smoke alarms once a year. Also, carbon monoxide detectors (especially in basements) are a must as well.
- You should ensure that fire extinguishers are placed in the kitchen of every suite. There are specific height rules that you should follow. Extinguishers in common areas are a good idea as well. Ensure that they are all working properly.
- Lastly, schedule regular fire prevention and safety inspections. Look for anything that might be a potential fire hazard and educate your tenants on the importance of fire safety and prevention. All your tenants should have a home escape plan and know what to do when the smoke or CO alarm sounds. Sit down with everyone in each suite and discuss how each person will get out of the home in an emergency
I have been through many rental properties over the years and a lot of times I will see a smoke alarm sitting in a corner without batteries. As a landlord you have to educate the tenants on the importance of these fire safety issues. Also, make sure that you adequate fire insurance coverage in the unfortunate event that a fire does occur and causes damage.