New Laws Affect Landlords

landlord helpA law passed last summer in California went into effect this month, and requires that all single family homes that have a fuel furnace, attached garage, or fireplace be equipped with battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors.

Beginning this time next year, all apartments, hotels and other residences must be equipped with the detectors.

According to a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, the law was supported by the state’s  firefighters association, and by Home Depot.

Failure to comply could result in a $200 fine. Given the liability that a landlord would face for carbon monoxide deaths or injuries, a carbon monoxide detector should be installed in every rental unit voluntarily.

Health experts warn that because the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may lessen once a person goes outside or breathes fresh air, many people fail to understand the danger they are in, and do not suspect carbon monoxide may be the cause of their illness.  Often, victims become drowsy and fall asleep.

With passage of this law, California joins more than two dozen other states in requiring carbon monoxide detection in homes and other residential and commercial occupancies.

In March of last year, Wisconsin’s Governor Doyle signed into a law a provision that requires all homes to have carbon monoxide detectors beginning on February 1, 2011.  Nearly two-dozen other states have similar laws.  Some states, including Colorado, require landlords to periodically inspect the detectors and check for missing batteries.  It is a good practice to include a lease provision that prohibits tenants from removing batteries or disabling the detectors, for instance if they smoke in the apartment.

A number of deaths have occurred when car exhaust penetrated living areas.  Other recent deaths have been caused by the use of portable appliances indoors, including a generator.

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