CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR LAWS BY STATE

Odorless, colorless and deadly—that’s carbon monoxide, an invisible gas that can cause fatalities when people inhale it for long periods of time. This post will focus on carbon monoxide detector laws by state so you know if you’re following proper procedures.

A table of contents for carbon monoxide detector laws by state

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide 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.

Are carbon monoxide detectors required in rental properties?

The laws on carbon monoxide detectors are determined at the state level. Typically the law will be consistent whether it is a rental property or a personal home.

For instance in New York State every single-family home, two-family home, condominium, cooperative and each unit of a multiple dwelling building require a working CO detector. (source: amtrustgroup.com)

Carbon monoxide detector requirements by state

Many states have established laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in any residence and some specifically mention 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:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • 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.

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.

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.

FAQs on carbon monoxide detectors

Is a carbon monoxide detector a legal requirement?

This will depend on your state and situation. You’ll want to research your state laws for your specific situation. Is it a rental, commercial, or personal residence? Look above to see if your state is featured on the list, if it is go to this link and enter your state for more details.

Do apartments have carbon monoxide detectors?

If you’re looking at your apartments detectors, inspect them closely. Some detectors serve a dual purpose as a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector. Some detectors are required in apartments while others are not and this will depend on your state.

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Comments

  1. Landlordology

    I’m really surprised that DC doesn’t require CO detectors. They are so strict on everything else. Regardless, I think a landlord should always make sure there is a detector and that the batteries work. It’s a life and death situation.

    • Stephen Michael White

      Unfortunately it took the death of a little girl in my town for this to become law in New York. You’d think in a day and age when we can make phone calls via a wrist watch, they’d make a smoke detector/CO detector combination so all you needed was a single device. Then the smoke detector laws would cover the same ground. So I say no need for new laws, just new devices that make sense.

  2. Landlordology

    I’m really surprised that DC doesn’t require CO detectors. They are so strict on everything else. Regardless, I think a landlord should always make sure there is a detector and that the batteries work. It’s a life and death situation.

  3. Ghassan

    Helllo,

    This talks about residential buildings. how about residential houses? i am a landlord and have a few properties. Am I required to have carbon monoxide detectors?

    • Stephen Michael White

      Ghassan, chances are yes, you are required to have the carbon monoxide detectors. You can always check with your local municipality, but in all honesty, the detectors are very inexpensive and well worth providing even if it’s not required.

  4. Celeste

    Note that Nebraska can now be added to the list, with the recent passage and signing of 2015 Neb. Laws 34.

    Bill Text – https://legiscan.com/NE/text/LB34/2015

    Sadly, having a law on the books was not enough to avert tragedy in Maryland last week. More widespread implementation is needed.

  5. Stephen White

    They may not be required to provide one, depending on the state. I’d ask them for one.

  6. Stephen White

    Sounds shady Karen.

    Now to answer you question about your rights… you have already received the new detector which is your right. But there wouldn’t be anything to do after that. Without any “damages” there would be nothing to sue for. So in this case, just knowing your rights is the most important thing now that you’re safer in your place.

  7. Stephen White

    Christine, you are responsible for maintenance and testing of the detectors, if for no other reason that you don’t want to leave that up to a tenant. The detectors are a great thing to check during a routine annual, or bi-annual, inspection. Getting in the unit periodically will ensure that everything is being taken care, and anything that needs to be addressed can be, before it’s too late.

    In terms of legality, I don’t think Maryland has specific language about landlords being responsible for testing and maintenance. But it can be assumed since you’re responsible for providing “working” detectors.

  8. concerned tenant

    Me and my family were exposed to high levels of CO the symptoms alone is what alerted us called the energy company to report a leak he said the readings were extremely high coming from the furnace and even higher in the upstairs where the bedrooms are opened all the windows of the townhome he gave us a tag to give to maintenance to replace the furnace and said had we went to sleep in those conditions we may not have woken up we do not have CO detectors in our townhomes and when we told management they said they just ordered CO detectors for the units and that someone will be out today to replace the furnace as tenants what legal rights do we have

    • Stephen White

      I’m not sure I understand the question – “what legal rights do we have?”

      Do you want to sue the landlord for money?

  9. Stephen White

    Ana, what would you sue for? What were the damages? Do you have any documented proof of damages (from a doctor)?

    Assuming that you do not, I would think it’s not worth your time to sue unless there was something more than feeling nauseous to sue for. Make sense?

    Was your landlord in the wrong? Yes, from the sounds of it. But suing someone is not always going to work. You have to have something to sue for. There has to be “damages”.

    Now, if you still don’t have the detectors.. go to the store and get them today!! The landlord is responsible, but it’s not worth your life, or your unborn child’s life to prove a point. Be safe first and then fight the landlord.

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