A Toledo, Ohio landlord has been indicted by a grand jury for reckless homicide following the deaths of four tenants at his rental property.
Investigators report that the occupants, a mother and three children, died from carbon monoxide fumes emitted from a generator that the landlord loaned them in order to heat the home.
It appears all of the victims died in their sleep on or near the living room couch. The portable generator had been operating nearby in the kitchen. Police have not reported whether it was the victim or the landlord who placed the generator in that room or if the landlord showed the tenants how to use it.
In order to prove the criminal case against the landlord, prosecutors will need to show that he disregarded a known risk and displayed indifference to the consequences.
The landlord has issued a statement that he was trying to do the family a favor by allowing them to live at the property, which did not have active utility service. He brought the generator over so the family could plug in a space heater.
Initial reports indicate that there were no carbon monoxide detectors in the home.
In January, four members of an Oakhurst, California family died from carbon monoxide poisoning, also caused by a gas-generator generator used to power a space heater.
In December of last year, a St. Clair, Missouri family died from carbon monoxide poisoning soon after moving into a new home. Family members had complained of nausea in the days leading up to their deaths, but attributed the symptoms to the flu. There were no carbon monoxide detectors in the home.
The majority of states now require landlords to maintain carbon monoxide detectors in rental properties, although Ohio does not appear to have passed such a law on the state level at this time.
About 400 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year, according to the CDC.
For more see Disaster Prevention: Now, It’s the Law!
American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.