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Landlords fined $30,000 after blind tenant escaped fire in Oshawa apartment

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 2019-02-27 Jeff Mitchell - DurhamRegion.com
Firefighters helped a blind woman flee a fire in her Oshawa apartment almost three years ago. © Sabrina Byrnes Firefighters helped a blind woman flee a fire in her Oshawa apartment almost three years ago.

Two Oshawa landlords have been fined $30,000 for fire code and property standards violations discovered after firefighters helped a blind woman flee a fire in her apartment almost three years ago.

Yuen-Ming Shek and Eliza Shek were not present for the sentencing hearing, which occurred Feb. 21 in provincial offences court in Whitby. They were given 15 days to pay the fines levied against them.

The charges were laid after firefighters responding to a call on Quebec St. in June 2016 found the tenant, a blind woman, struggling to escape her smoke-filled apartment, prosecutor Rhonda VanderLinde told the court.

An inspection of the premises revealed it was not equipped with working smoke alarms. The inspection also revealed property standards concerns, she said.

Justice of the peace Maxine Coopersmith said that the incident could well have ended in tragedy.

“Calling it a near miss does not do it justice,” she said. “There but for the great work of our firefighters, we did not have another fatality.”

Coopersmith fined each of the property owners $15,000 — $10,000 for fire code violations and $5,000 for property standards infractions — for a total penalty of $30,000.

“People cannot be in the business of renting units and not take fire code and property standards seriously,” Coopersmith said.

During submissions to the court, VanderLinde noted that Yuen-Ming Shek has been convicted and fined multiple times for fire code and property standards infractions at his rental properties in Oshawa.

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