Landlord to blame in carbon monoxide deaths?
Here in Toledo, Ohio, our community suffered a great and needless tragedy this past week when four innocent lives were lost due to carbon monoxide poisoning in their rented home.
If you read the Toledo Blade story linked above, you'll find out that the family of four had recently moved into the rental home, and that the current landlord has owned the property himself only a short time. You'll also find out that the home had no water, electric or gas utility services, and that the landlord supplied the family with a gas-powered generator only hours before that same generator running indoors emitted toxic carbon monoxide fumes so powerful that they killed the entire family as they slept.
It turns out that the utilities were turned off before this particular landlord owned the property -- the electric, when a former tenant moved out; and the gas, at the request of a tenant, possibly due to an inability to pay a $200 bill balance. I've not seen any information about the property's water service.
Is the landlord culpable in these four tragic deaths?
I'm going to say yes, he is.
Any health department inspector would've found the property to be unfit for habitation. No water, no heat. As a landlord, you ought not rent out any property that's not fit for habitation. I'm sure this guy, the current landlord, wasn't thrilled to find out that at least one utility bill needed to be paid before service could be restored to the address, but that's one of those things you suck up and deal with when you're an investment property owner.
Expect a lawsuit to be filed by surviving family members, if not formal charges levied by authorities, in this case.