The City of London's Residential Rental Unit License By-law requires any rental property of four (4) units or less be licensed. As part of the licensing requirement, a property owner must complete a self-certification checklist, pay a $165 rental licence fee, and $171 fire inspection fee or renewal rental licence fee of $55.
When an inspection is requested by the property owner, an inspector from the Fire Department will contact the owner or authorized property manager to arrange a date and time to attend the building. We will need access to all areas of the building in order to complete the inspection.
What we look for during this inspection depends on the type of property.
Single family home
When inspecting a single family home that does not involve any other units, the inspector will check all smoke alarms to ensure they are in working condition and placed in the required locations.
Your duplex may fall under retrofit legislation in the Ontario Fire code. 9.8 Retrofit applies to "a detached house, "semi-detached house" or "row house" which contains two occupied, self contained "dwelling units" (each "dwelling unit" is operated as a housekeeping unit and is provided with independent cooking, eating, sleeping and sanitary facilities), and has one "dwelling unit" or portion of the "dwelling unit" situated above another "dwelling unit", or two "dwelling units" situated side by side sharing a common interior means of escape which may include an interior stairway, corridor or doorway."
If your property does require retrofit, we would look at ensuring required fire separations are in place, working smoke alarms are in place as required and an ElecCheck inspection from the Electrical Safety Authority 1-877-ESA-Safe (372-7233) has been done and all repairs have been completed.
Triplex or 4-plex
Your building may fall under retrofit legislation in the Ontario Fire Code. 9.5 Retrofit applies to "buildings up to and including 6 storeys in building height with residential occupancies and containing; 1a) more than two dwelling units where i) at least two dwelling units share common exit facilities and have interior access to one another, ii) there is at least one dwelling unit located above another with interior access to one another, or iii) there is at least one dwelling unit located above another and the dwelling units share common exit facilities, b) sleeping accommodation for more than 10 persons, in one or more dormitories c) boarding, lodging or rooming accommodation for more than four persons where Sections 9.3 and 9.4 do not apply, or d) one or two dwelling units in combination with boarding, lodging or rooming accommodation for two, three, or four persons, excluding the operator's residence.
If your property does require retrofit, we would look at ensuring required fire separations are in place, working smoke alarms are in place as required and any fire alarm requirements have been addressed. For more information, please see Part 9 of the Fire Code.
Depending on how the property is rented, off campus housing may fall under single family home or boarding and lodging.
As the owner of a dwelling rented out to students, you have a responsibility to ensure that your building is in compliance with all applicable fire regulations in order to provide a fire safe environment for students.
The Fire Protection and Prevention Act, along with the Ontario Fire Code regulate the fire safety requirements for all occupancies, including student housing. London Fire Department conducts inspections in all premises occupied as student housing on a complaint bases and as part of the Residential Rental Licence Bylaw.
Failure to comply with the Ontario Fire Code could result in charges being filed in Provincial Offenses Court. The maximum fine for a Corporation is $100,000.00 while for an individual it is $50,000 or a year in jail or both. Building owners can face civil liability and possible criminal charges if a fire occurs and the building is not in compliance. Insurance companies may be reluctant to pay claims if the lack of compliance leads to the spread of the fire. Ignorance of the law is no defence. Take the time now to ensure that your building is in compliance with all fire safety regulations.
Types of Residential Occupancies and Fire Safety Requirements
Single family dwellings (can include a group of students living in a home)
If not more than four students are living in a home as a single housekeeping unit the occupancy is classified as a single family dwelling. The Ontario Fire Code requires that an operational smoke alarm (battery operated acceptable) be installed on each floor level of the home and outside of each sleeping area.
If a group of five or more students are living in a home, the home could be classified as either a single family home or a lodging house. That determination would be based on whether the owner or the occupants have the largest degree of control over the use of the house and property. An in-depth investigation examining various factors will be conducted by an Inspector from the London Fire Department.
Boarding, rooming and lodging houses
If a group of five or more persons (including students) live independently of each other in a residence and the building owner of that residence exercises a large degree of control over the home, the occupancy is classified as a lodging house. A lodging house will also have common washroom and kitchen facilities for the use of all residents. Lodging houses are typically required to be licensed by the City of London, a process that would initiate inspection activities by various municipal enforcement agencies. The building is required to have as a minimum, an interconnected alternating current smoke alarm system with one smoke alarm on each floor level, a 45 mm(1 3/4”) solid core wood door on each bedroom and a minimum 5 BC rated portable fire extinguisher in each kitchen. Addition fire safety requirements will include but are not limited to fire separations of exits and dwelling units, proper exits (number and location) and emergency procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency.
Apartments (low-rise and high-rise buildings)
The Ontario Fire Code regulates fire safety requirements in both low-rise and high-rise residential buildings. Each apartment unit must be equipped with an operation AC or DC powered smoke alarm outside of the sleeping areas. Additional fire safety requirements will include but are not limited to fire separations of exits and dwelling units, exits; including number of and location of, alarm and detection systems in common areas of the building and emergency procedure to be followed in the event of an emergency.
Duplexes (two family dwellings)
The Ontario Fire Code regulates minimum provisions for fire safety in existing residential buildings (in detached homes or row house), which contain two existing dwelling units operated as individual housekeeping units. Each dwelling unit must be equipped with an operational AC or DC powered smoke alarm outside of the sleeping areas. Additional fire safety requirements will include but are not limited to fire separations of exits and dwelling units, exits, (including number of and location of) and a specific requirement for the building’s electrical system to be inspected and approved by the Electrical Safety Authority.
Regardless of whether your property is licensed or not, the building must meet the retrofit requirements. Failing to do so may result in prosecution under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.