Have you ever heard of carbon monoxide poisoning? It’s a silent killer that can be present in your home without you even realizing it.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that can cause serious harm to your health if you have prolonged exposure to it.
And it can accumulate in your home from several common causes, including clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, gas stoves and even tobacco smoke.
A simple way to prevent exposure to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide is by installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
However, if you’re just renting, you might ask: are landlords responsible for carbon monoxide detectors?
In this article, we’ll answer this question and explore the legal landscape for landlords on this issue. I’ll also cover how key states handle this matter and highlight differences in their approaches, so you can get a sense of how major jurisdictions address this important issue.
If you don’t have the time to read through it all, here’s a short answer to the question:
In many states, landlords are required to install carbon monoxide detectors. For jurisdictions that have this requirement, they will usually specify the required locations and cover testing and maintenance obligations.
Ok, let’s get into it.
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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State Laws On Carbon Monoxide Detectors
As mentioned above, different states have different laws on CO detectors, but many states have adopted CO detector regulations. By my count, there are 27 states (and D.C.) that have enacted some form of legislation requiring CO detectors.
They are as follows:
|Connecticut||Maine||New Hampshire||Rhode Island||Wisconsin|
|District of Columbia||Maryland||New Jersey||Tennessee|
Some states require landlords to provide written notice to their tenants about CO poisoning. This memo must contain the dangers of carbon monoxide and the importance of maintaining the detectors.
Property owners may face hefty penalties like fines, legal action, or even criminal charges if they fail to comply.
It is important to note that different states have different requirements, with some being more strict and others being more lenient. Let’s dive into some of those differences.
California’s carbon monoxide detector requirements are embodied in their Health & Safety Code (Section 17926).
It requires that a landlord install a CO detector approved and listed by the State Fire Marshall in each dwelling that has a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace or an attached garage.
The number and placement of these detectors must be comply with building standards applicable to new construction for the dwelling.
The CO detectors must be operating properly upon move in, and the tenant must notify the landlord if they become aware of a malfunctioning detector.
New York requires that owners of buildings that have one or more restaurants and owners of commercial buildings have CO detectors. This requirement only applies if the restaurant or commercial building has appliances, devices or systems that may emit carbon monoxide or has an attached garage.
In Massachusetts, landlords are required to install CO detectors in every building that is used for residential purposes that contains fossil fuel burning equipment, including a furnace boiler, water heater, fireplace, or any other device that burns fossil fuel.
It also applies to any building that has enclosed parking.
The landlord must ensure that CO detectors (either battery powered or electric wired) are working at the beginning of the tenancy and shall maintain them, if necessary, annually to ensure their continued operation.
As you can see, although general themes seem to be consistent, state laws differ on their specific requirements, so it’s worth researching the laws in your specific jurisdiction to find out what applies in your situation.
For your convenience, here’s our 50 state reference table (including D.C.) that will link you to the official landlord tenant laws of your state.
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Who Is Responsible For Maintaining CO Detectors?
Maintenance responsibilities also vary by state.
As we discussed, some states, like Massachusetts require the landlord to conduct annual inspections and maintain the CO detectors by replacing batteries and the like, as needed.
However, other states require the tenant to notify the landlord if they discover that a CO detector is not working and may place the burden on tenants to keep the detectors in good repair.
For example in Pennsylvania, the tenant is responsible to do the following:
- Keep and maintain the device in good repair.
- Test the device.
- Replace batteries as needed.
- Replace any device that is stolen, removed, missing or inoperable.
- Notify the owner of any deficiencies.
Again, checking your applicable laws is essential if you want a definitive answer to this question, but regardless of who is responsible, you will want to make sure your CO detector is working properly at all times to protect yourself, especially if your home has devices that emit CO regularly.
What If My State Does Not Require It?
If your state does not require a carbon monoxide detector, but you are worried about high CO levels in your home, you can install one yourself.
I would recommend that you discuss it with your landlord – a battery powered one will not harm the unit or require any wiring or other changes.
You never know – a landlord may be willing to foot the bill!
Wrapping it Up
So there you have it – a detailed look at whether landlords are responsible for carbon monoxide detectors. Hope this has been helpful and happy renting!