Landlords have to provide smoke alarms in almost every state. Many places also require carbon monoxide (CO) detection, especially for higher-risk properties like those with a fireplace or adjacent garage.
Special Conditions Requiring Carbon Monoxide Detectors
A few states require CO detectors in all residential housing. Most, however – including California, New York, and Florida – only require CO detection in housing with high carbon monoxide emissions risk. This means housing with one or more of the following features:
- Garage attached to the premises.
- Heater that burns fossil fuels in any way.
- Any other appliance that burns fossil fuels.
Who Changes Batteries for Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors?
Maintenance duties for smoke alarms and CO detectors depend on how serious the issue is. Minor regular maintenance, including battery replacement, is usually the tenant’s job. The landlord, on the other hand, has a duty to make sure the detectors are in general good working order.
This means a landlord must provide working detectors when a rental begins. Most maintenance afterward is the tenant’s responsibility. The tenant is also responsible for all damage caused by the tenant’s irresponsible behavior. This potentially includes major maintenance like replacement.
Consequences for Failure To Provide Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors
Landlord failure to provide required safety devices, like smoke alarms and CO detectors, is a standard type of housing violation. State laws vary widely, but if a landlord doesn’t provide these after proper notice from the tenant, the following remedies are often available:
- Forcing compliance via court order
- Suing the landlord for costs of the violation (monetary damages)
- Reporting the landlord to housing authorities
- Ending the lease and moving out (for major violations)