Legislative requirements for condominium properties, specifically related to the Fire Code, has serious implications on Condominium Corporations, its Directors, the Property Management Companies, and individual unit owners.
Recent Ontario case law illustrates the serious obligations to ensure that the Fire Code is upheld, with the consequences of a violation resulting in hefty fines and in one instance, jail time.
When it comes to smoke detectors, the fire code is very black and white. In the case City of Toronto v. York Condominium Corporation No. 60, the Fire Marshall charged both the unit owner and the Condominium Corporation with failing to provide a smoke alarm. This is an offence under the Fire Code. In their decision, the court stated:
“Fire does not respect the division of control in condominium law. The purpose of the smoke alarm regulation is to carry out the intent and purpose of the Fire Marshall’s Act.”
The traditional understanding and definition in the Condominium Act that the corporation does not own the unit seems fundamentally clear. Under the provision of the Fire Code, the “owner” is responsible for ensuring that the smoke alarms are installed. It is the concept of “owner” which the courts defines as any person or corporation “having control over any portion of the building or property…”
Boards cannot simply leave it up to the individual unit owners to comply with the provisions of the Fire Code. Adopting a policy (and perhaps a rule) should be coupled with a physical inspection confirming that the smoke detectors are installed, working properly and not expired. Documentation in this regard is key.
In addition, new legislation was recently passed which addresses carbon monoxide detectors. Essentially, all units must comply with the installation on or before October 15, 2015. A record of testing and maintenance, similar to smoke detectors has also become part of the Fire Code.
Current penalties for violating the Fire Code come with a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for individuals, $100,000 for corporations.
Ensure that your corporation is compliant, and up to speed with the Fire Code. Don’t allow yourself to get burnt. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about what our property management team can do for you.