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Smoke Alarm Regulations for Rental Properties

Regulations for Rental Properties

The City of Winnipeg has established revised standards and requirements for smoke alarms in residential rental properties.These revisions include new requirements for testing, maintenance, record keeping and tenant/owner education for smoke alarms.
Owners of residential rental units will be required to test smoke alarms annually and keep records of the tests for review by Fire Inspectors. They will also be required to provide information to renters about the owner's obligations with respect to smoke alarms in the units.

What about my landlord’s obligations?

Smoke alarms are mandatory in all residential rental units. The owner must ensure that all smoke alarms are installed and maintained in accordance with the most recent edition of the 'Standard for the Installation of Smoke-Alarms', published by the Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada and approved by the Standards Council of Canada.

What smoke alarms are acceptable?

An acceptable smoke alarm has a permanent connection to an electrical circuit with no disruption between the over-current device and the smoke alarm or one that is powered by a ten year lithium battery and is approved by the Fire Paramedic Service.

Who is responsible for installing a smoke alarm?

The owner or owner's representative or the property manager is responsible for the installation of all smoke alarms.

How many smoke alarms should I have?

At least one acceptable (10 yr. lithium battery) or hardwired smoke alarm must be installed and maintained in every residential rental unit.

What about false alarms?

Any smoke alarm that is located in a residential rental unit that consists of a single room or that is located within ten feet of the entrance to a bathroom or within ten feet of a cooking area or within ten feet of a cooking appliance in a motel or hotel room must be equipped with a pause, hush, silencer or false alarm control feature.

What if my smoke alarm repeatedly 'false alarms'?

Where a smoke alarm has been damaged, tampered with, destroyed, disconnected or removed or has actuated false alarms on two or more occasions within a twelve month period, the Fire Paramedic Service may require the installation of an acceptable photoelectric smoke alarm.

Can an "old" hard-wired smoke alarm be replaced with a new ten-year lithium battery alarm?

An owner of a residential rental unit must not replace an approved smoke alarm that has a permanent connection to an electrical circuit with a smoke alarm powered by any other source.

Can I remove a smoke alarm?

Except to repair or replace it, no person shall damage, tamper with, destroy, disconnect or remove an approved smoke alarm after it has been installed.

What are my obligations as a tenant?

A tenant must never tamper with a smoke alarm. It is against the law and you can be charged and/or fined under the Fire Prevention bylaw. Also your landlord can give you as little as five days notice to move if you are caught tampering with a smoke alarm.

What about my landlord’s obligations?

Your landlord must ensure that your smoke alarm is always working. He/she must test and clean your smoke alarm(s) at least once a year and maintain a log of all smoke alarm tests and provide it for review to a Fire Inspector if so requested.
Your landlord must also test the smoke alarm whenever a new tenant moves in and replace a smoke alarm that is not working properly within 24 hours of being notified or finding out about it. It is also the landlord's responsibility to report you to the City of Winnipeg Fire Prevention Branch if you tamper with a smoke alarm or any other fire safety equipment.

When do I change a smoke alarm battery?

Smoke alarms powered by 10 year lithium batteries cannot be changed. 9V battery backup with hard-wired smoke alarms shall be changed when required or as stated by manufacturer.
Important Information!

Tell your landlord or caretaker immediately if your smoke alarm isn't working. Be sure to write down the date and time you reported it. Call the Winnipeg Fire Prevention Branch at 204-986-8200 if your landlord doesn't repair or replace your smoke alarm within 24-hours!
You should also ask your caretaker to show you how to test the smoke alarm in your rental unit. Test your smoke alarm every month and write down the date that you did the test. When you press and hold the test button, the smoke alarm should start and the alarm should sound. Be sure to test hard-wired alarms too. The light on the alarm only means there is power to the alarm. Ask your caretaker to show you how to use the pause, hush or silence button on your smoke alarm, if it has one.
This button allows you to turn off the alarm for a while if you burn toast or your oven is smoking. The alarm will beep intermittently while it is paused and will reset after 10 minutes.
Make sure the caretaker gives you phone numbers to call if your smoke alarm isn't working properly and plan your home escape in case of fire. Make sure your family knows the plan and that you practice “escaping” from your home regularly. If you would like to know more about home escape plans or general fire safety, call the Fire Prevention Branch at 204-986-8200.

Smoke Alarms in Rental Units Brochure

If you have any questions regarding rental properties in Winnipeg, call the Residential Tenancies Branch at 204-945-2476.

Last update: August 11, 2016
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