Apartment Complex Bans Electric Vehicles: ‘Potential Fire Hazard’

A Toronto, Ontario, Canada, building complex at 110 and 120 Jameson Avenue in Parkdale, owned by Oberon Development Corporation, has ignited a legal debate by banning electric transportation vehicles on its property.

Notices were posted this week to alert tenants that electric vehicles, including bikes, motorbikes, hoverboards, mopeds, segways, and skateboard scooters, are not permitted on the premises. The notice cited lithium batteries as a “potential fire hazard.”

Douglas Kwan, the director of advocacy and legal services at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, stated, “And these are small devices. A segway is so tiny, it’s smaller than some vacuum cleaners. It seems unreasonable for the landlord to act in this manner.” CBC Toronto reached out to the property manager for comment but received no response.

Kwan further noted that such a ban could violate the Residential Tenancies Act and Ontario’s Human Rights Code. Toronto Fire Services (TFS) reported that it has responded to 47 fires involving lithium-ion batteries this year, 10 of which occurred in residential high-rises. However, TFS clarified that condo corporations are entitled to implement rules for their buildings, bound by separate legislation.

Samuel Mason, a tenant lawyer at Parkdale Community Legal Services, argued that the ban contradicts the Residential Tenancies Act. “The use of electronic transportation devices or vehicles is certainly something that someone has a right to do, in the place where they live,” Mason said. He added that many tenants may rely on these devices for work, particularly if they are delivery drivers.

The Atmospheric Fund is currently launching a program with Kite Mobility, a Toronto-based electric rideshare company, to help residents in buildings like condos and apartments gain access to electric mobility devices through renting them. “This is a great solution for families who live in the buildings because it makes life more affordable by eliminating the cost of private car ownership,” said Ian Klesmer, the director of strategy and grants at TAF.

For now, Kwan recommends that tenants consult with a local community legal clinic about filing a tenants’ rights application, which would compel the landlord to justify the ban in front of the Landlord and Tenant Board. “They should really challenge the landlord,” Kwan advised.

Banning an electric vehicle due to the ‘dangers’ of lithium ion batteries? What’s next for this apartment building? Banning iPhone and Android phones, tablets, and computers next?