Odorless, colorless and deadly—that’s carbon monoxide, an invisible gas that can cause fatalities when people inhale it for long periods of time.
It is emitted in combustion fumes from stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, gas heating systems and burning charcoal or wood stoves. This silent killer can permeate a home or apartment without landlords or residents even knowing it until it’s too late. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious illness and if exposed for too long, can result in death.
Detecting excess amounts of carbon monoxide gas is easily done with the installation of carbon monoxide detectors or alarms. Similar to smoke detectors, these devices alert residents of carbon monoxide exposure. It’s important for landlords to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure for a range of reasons. Of course, tenant safety is the most important reason.
Other reasons are to comply with state laws to avoid criminal or civil liability and to detect if heating or cooking appliances in the unit are faulty.
Lease Agreements and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The best way to ensure that carbon monoxide detectors are properly working at all times is to include an addendum with the lease agreement that outlines the various responsibilities. Make sure you have a carbon monoxide addendum with the lease agreement which verifies that working carbon monoxide detectors have been installed in compliance with the state laws. This is to protect you from any liability down the road.
The carbon monoxide detector addendum should also specify that the tenant is responsible for changing out the batteries twice per year. It should state that the tenant agrees not to tamper with the detector and that he or she will reimburse the landlord if the detector is damaged due to tampering.
What States Require Carbon Monoxide Detectors?
Many states have established laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in any residence and some specifically state that landlords are responsible for installing and maintaining them. There are penalties for neglecting to install detectors, from fines to more serious charges in certain instances.
The states that absolutely require carbon monoxide detectors in residential buildings are:
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- Vermont Virginia
- West Virginia
State statutes concerning carbon monoxide detectors and alarms vary on what is allowed and who is responsible.
Here are some examples of some of these laws:
- In California, the law requires the installation of approved detectors in single-family dwellings, including rental properties.
- In Oregon, the law actually prohibits landlords from renting residential properties with a carbon monoxide source unless an approved carbon monoxide alarm is properly installed.
- In Virginia, the carbon monoxide detector law specifically prohibits a tenant from tampering or removing a carbon monoxide detector from the property, but allows any tenant to install a detector in a rental unit if the landlord has not done so.
In summary, carbon monoxide detectors and alarms are a valuable tool in ensuring the health and safety of your tenants. It’s also a key part of ensuring that your property is in compliance with state and municipal requirements concerning installation and property maintenance. The minimal amount of money it takes to purchase detectors and install them is well worth it when it comes to safety and security.
Do you have a carbon monoxide detector addendum for your lease agreement? How well do your tenants comply with the instructions?