This article is an edited extract from Landlording in Canada Kit by Michael Drouillard, published by and reprinted here courtesy of Self-Counsel Press. To download the full e-book or for more information, click here.
In the first three parts of this series, we looked at creating a rental advertisement, whether to rent your unit furnished or unfurnished and checking tenants' references. But before you let the tenant move in, you need to ensure your property is up to fire safety code. Once they are in situ, it is still your responsibility to maintain the fire safety of your property.
Below is a scaled down checklist of the standard owner’s (and property manager’s) responsibilities regarding fire safety. Consult your local Fire Department for a complete list of these responsibilities and/or a copy of your local Fire Code. Never hesitate to ask questions of your local Fire Department – your questions may save lives.
Frequently (and ask tenant to do this too)
[ ] Check all exit lights to ensure that they have not been damaged and that they are properly illuminated.
[ ] Check fire/smoke alarm panel to ensure that all indicator lights are functional and the appropriate lights are illuminated.
[ ] Check to ensure that all clutter (shoes, garbage, furniture, etc.) is removed from hallways, stairways, and other common spaces.
[ ] Keep all emergency exits clear of snow, ice, and clutter, and ensure proper operation of all emergency exit doors.
[ ] Inspect all doors in fire separations (hall, stair, exit, apartment doors, etc.) for proper operation and closure.
[ ] Test all emergency lighting systems for proper operation.
[ ] Inspect all portable fire extinguishers for proper charge level and easy accessibility.
[ ] Test your fire and smoke alarm systems for proper operation with system power on and using battery back-up (system power off). Ensure that all pull stations and smoke alarms will activate the alarm system when triggered. (Consult your system installer, monitoring company, or Fire Department for details.) Always notify all tenants, system monitoring company and the Fire Department before each test. Tenant notification may be in the form of a notice posted in common areas indicating that fire alarm tests will take place at specified times each month, or by letter or email to your tenant.
[ ] Conduct fire alarm drills in all buildings that have a fire alarm system. Even buildings that do not have a fire alarm system would benefit from a test. Encourage all tenants to practice an emergency evacuation plan (with a back-up plan).
[ ] Thoroughly inspect all fire extinguishers for proper operation. Replace the extinguishing agent in dry chemical extinguishers every 5–6 years or when needed.
[ ] Have qualified personnel conduct a complete test of the fire alarm system.