Home Sharing in Ontario: Fire and Life Safety Requirements

Home Sharing in Ontario: Fire and Life Safety Requirements

Home Sharing in Ontario

  • As an owner, you have obligations under the Ontario Fire Code for ensuring the fire safety of persons who rent your home or part of your home whether this is on a short term or long term basis.

Ontario Fire Code Fire and Life Safety Requirements

  • The Ontario Fire Code contains specific requirements for the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. As an owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your listing meets those safety requirements.
  • When utilizing your home for Home Sharing, you will be considered a landlord and are subject to landlord responsibilities under the Ontario Fire Code
  • You should contact your local fire service to determine how these regulations apply to your listing.
  • The authority having jurisdiction over Ontario Fire Code enforcement matters in a municipality is the local fire department. For more information, contact your local fire department.
  • For specific details regarding Ontario Fire Code requirements for smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and fire safety planning visit e-Laws at https://www.ontario.ca/laws .

Smoke Alarm Installation and Maintenance Requirements

  • Every home in Ontario must have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas.

Responsibilities

  • Homeowners and landlords must install and maintain smoke alarms on every storey of their home and outside all sleeping areas.

Landlords:

  • Landlords are responsible for ensuring working smoke alarms are installed and maintained in their rental properties.
  • The law requires landlords to test smoke alarms in rental units annually and when the battery is replaced, changes are made to the electric circuit or a change in tenancy occurs. Smoke alarms must be tested by pressing the test button.
  • The law requires landlords to provide smoke alarm manufacturer’s maintenance instructions to tenants.
  • The owner of a condominium suite is responsible for the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms in the suite.
  • In a situation where the condominium owner rents out the suite to a tenant, the owner takes on the role of the landlord and is responsible for the installation and maintenance of the smoke alarms.

Tenants:

  • Tenants are required by law to notify the landlord if the smoke alarm is inoperable.
  • It is against the law for tenants to remove the batteries or tamper with the smoke alarm in any way.
  • Tenants should contact their landlord immediately if they do not have the required number of smoke alarms.

Additional Best Practices:

  • For added protection, install a smoke alarm in every bedroom of the home according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • It is recommended that smoke alarms be tested monthly or in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms once a year or whenever the low-battery warning sounds. Know the difference between a low-battery warning and an emergency alarm – consult the smoke alarm manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Replace smoke alarms in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Know what the “end-of-life” warning sounds like – consult the smoke alarm manufacturer’s instructions.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm Installation and Maintenance Requirements

Houses:

  • Any house containing a fuel burning appliance, fireplace or an attached garage requires a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm installed adjacent to each sleeping area in the house. (Fuel-burning appliances include furnaces, hot water heaters, gas or wood fireplaces, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators, barbeques, stoves and vehicles.)

Apartments and Condominiums:

  • If there is a fuel-burning appliance in a condo/apartment, a carbon monoxide alarm must be installed adjacent to each sleeping area.
  • If the building has a service room, carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in the service room and adjacent to each sleeping area of all condos/apartments above, below and beside the service room.
  • If the building has a garage, carbon monoxide alarms must be installed adjacent to each sleeping area of all condos/apartments above, below and beside the garage.

(In general, “adjacent to each sleeping area” means the hallway serving or area outside the sleeping area. For instance, a CO alarm must be installed in the hallway adjacent to multiple bedrooms in a house or apartment. However, there may be situations where “adjacent to each sleeping area” refers to the area around the bed, within the bedroom or sleeping area itself.)

Responsibilities:

  • Homeowners and landlords must install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms as outlined above.

Landlords:

  • Landlords are responsible to ensure working carbon monoxide alarms are installed and maintained in their rental properties.
  • The law requires landlords to test CO alarms in rental units annually and when the battery is replaced, changes are made to the electric circuit or a change in tenancy occurs. CO alarms must be tested by pressing the test button.
  • The law requires landlords to provide CO alarm manufacturer’s maintenance instructions to tenants.
  • The owner of the condominium suite is responsible for the installation and maintenance of CO alarms in the suite. Often, there are agreements between the owner and the condominium corporation in which the corporation takes on this responsibility on behalf of the owner.
  • In a situation where the condominium owner rents out the suite to a tenant, the owner takes on the role of the landlord and is responsible for the installation and maintenance of the CO alarms. Again, there are often agreements between the owner/landlord and the condominium corporation, in which the corporation takes on this responsibility on behalf of the owner/landlord.

Tenants:

  • Tenants are required by law to notify the landlord if the CO alarm is inoperable.
  • It is against the law for tenants to remove the batteries or tamper with the CO alarm in any way.

Additional Best Practices:

  • For added protection, install a carbon monoxide alarm on every storey of the home according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • It is recommended that carbon monoxide alarms be tested monthly or in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Replace batteries in carbon monoxide alarms once a year or whenever the low-battery warning sounds. Know the difference between a low-battery warning and an emergency alarm – consult the CO alarm manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Replace CO alarms in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Know what the “end-of-life” warning sounds like – consult the CO alarm manufacturer’s instructions.

Emergency Planning and Home Escape Planning

Responsibilities:

Apartments and Condominiums:

  • Building owners are to instruct occupants on the emergency procedures to be followed when the fire alarm sounds.
  • Tenants should be aware of the procedures outlined in the building’s fire safety plan.

Additional Best Practices:

Houses:

  • Occupants should develop a home escape plan and know what to do when the smoke or CO alarm sounds. Sit down with everyone in the household and discuss how each person will get out of the home in an emergency.
  • Practise the escape plan with everyone in the home. Make sure everyone can get out quickly.
  • Make sure everyone knows two ways out of each room, if possible. If the door of a room is blocked by smoke or fire, discuss an alternate escape route such as a window. Make sure all windows open easily. Security bars on windows should have quick-releasing devices so they can be easily removed.
  • Help those who need it. Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults, people with disabilities or anyone else who may need assistance.
  • Get low and go under the smoke to the nearest safe exit. Most fire deaths are the result of smoke inhalation.
  • Choose a meeting place outside, a safe distance from the home. A tree, street light or a neighbour’s home are all good choices. In case of fire, everyone should go directly to this meeting place to be accounted for.
  • Get out, stay out. Never re-enter a burning building. After safely escaping, call the fire department from outside the home using a cell phone or from a neighbour’s home.
 

Other Considerations

Construction:

  • If you are considering undertaking construction or renovation to facilitate home sharing, please contact your local building department to determine requirements under the Ontario Building Code that may apply.
  • Your municipality may also have requirements relating to licensing, zoning or safety that may apply to short term rentals. Please contact them directly for more information.
     

Apartments and Condominiums considered as hotels:

  • Consult your building management or condominium board prior to utilizing your unit for Home Sharing. 
  • Building management, condominium boards and landlords should familiarize themselves with the  requirements of the Ontario Fire Code and understand that multiple Home Sharing units in a building may result in your building (or portion of your building) being classified as a hotel when it provides sleeping accommodation for the travelling public or for recreational purposes. 
  • Contact your municipal fire department for assistance with application of Ontario Fire Code requirements to your building.