DELTA – A Delta couple who was burned out of their rented home has lost a lawsuit against their landlord who didn’t install smoke alarms.
The judge decided the landlord’s failure to install the alarms didn’t necessarily result in the losses the tenants claimed.
Kenneth Boon and Leona Douglas sued Kashmir Mann in B.C. Supreme Court, with Justice Robert Punnett presiding.
"I am satisfied that the defendant was negligent in not installing and maintaining smoke alarms," Punnett decided. "However the plaintiffs have failed on the balance of probabilities to establish that negligence caused the losses claimed."
Boon and Douglas were tenants in a residence Mann owned in Delta. On July 12, 2011, a fire broke out in their suite, killing one of their dogs.
The couple claimed Mann was negligent by failing to install smoke alarms and sued him for loss of property, personal injuries, wage loss and future care costs.
Boon and Douglas argued Mann owed them a duty of care to ensure their home was reasonably safe for use and that he should have done so by installing smoke alarms.
All residential buildings in B.C. require smoke alarms.
Mann argued that no fault or negligence can be ascribed to him considering the cause of the fire remains unknown. Even if Mann were negligent, his counsel argued, the plaintiffs have not proved a causal link between that and the losses they claimed.
Boon and Douglas took possession of their suite on April 1, 2011 but did not sign a tenancy agreement. The court heard that when the tenants did their initial inspection, they noted there were no smoke alarms. They claimed Mann agreed to install them, claimed they reminded him to do so several times during their tenancy and that they even offered to buy some alarms themselves if he agreed to deduct the cost from their rent.
The plaintiffs said Mann repeated that he would install the alarms himself, but never did.
Mann testified he didn’t know if the house had smoke alarms when he bought it in 2007 or 2008, and didn’t know if he had installed them. The plaintiffs testified they themselves installed three fire extinguishers which were functioning at the time of the fire.
The couple, their guests and four dogs were in the house at the time of the fire.
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