A lawyer must deal with a lawsuit to remove fire walls from a building in Old Montreal, very close to the one that burned down last week, to increase rental capacity on Airbnb.
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Four tenants of a building located on Notre-Dame Street West filed a lawsuit in 2021 in a Montreal court in which they are seeking a total of $330,000. They targeted a real estate investment firm headed by Emile Fattal, a Montreal lawyer.
According to their allegations, the company illegally operated apartments for short-term rentals on Airbnb, making their lives impossible and putting their safety at risk.
“On September 14, 2019, an update to the fire doors is taking place […] Enlarge the dwellings and increase their capacity. These renovations destroy the walls of the fire doors adjacent to the plaintiff’s residence,” Eric Pelletier, one of the tenants, specifically alleged in the appeal.
The building is located in the same tourist area where two people died and five went missing in a tragic fire on Thursday.
Smell of smoke
According to another tenant, James Peters, in June 2018, the smell of smoke was already pervading the building.
He said he should call 911 to prevent a fire. Smoke from a cigar burning in a compost-filled flower box in an apartment would have signaled the arrival of firefighters.
That’s not all, as the “accumulation of debris and snow” would also have blocked the back alley door, “thereby affecting the safety of the plaintiff who could not use the door as an emergency exit in the event of a fire,” it alleged.
Montreal was aware of these prohibited activities, and a city employee reportedly filed a report in 2020.
According to the allegations, the owner of the building allegedly denied that there was any problem with the tourists.
He is also familiar with the short-term rental activity, as the leases are listed as planned rentals on Airbnb.
A number of other encumbrances were listed in the appeal. Premises were reportedly advertised on Airbnb as suitable for hosting groups during the pandemic.
Dead animal remains on the walls can attract flies and cockroaches to an apartment.
In May 2022, the prosecutor’s office asked that some of the allegations be dropped from the legal action, specifically saying they were hearsay.
In October 2021, he placed all the blame on the tenants at Airbnb, arguing that they were solely responsible for any damage. The company’s full argument is yet to be presented to the court.
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