New State Law Mandates Installation of CO Devices in Homes by July 1, 2011

On May 7, 2010, the Governor signed SB 183, a bill that requires owners of all single-family homes that have fossil fuel burning appliances, fireplaces, or an attached garage to install carbon monoxide device(s) (“CO devices”) approved and listed by the State Fire Marshall on or before July 1, 2011.

For all other dwellings, owners will be required to install the CO devices on or before January 1, 2013.

The devices (1) must be designed to detect carbon monoxide and produce a distinct, audible alarm; (2) may be 1) battery powered; 2) a plug in device with a battery backup, or 3) a device installed as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association that is either wired into the alternating current power line of the dwelling unit with a secondary battery backup or connected to a system via a panel. They must be tested and certified pursuant to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and UL.

If the device is combined with a smoke detector, it must comply with the standards that apply to carbon monoxide alarms, the standards that apply to smoke detectors, and must emit an alarm or voice warning in a manner that clearly differentiates between a carbon monoxide alarm warning and a smoke detector warning. Single-family home owners will be given a 30-day notice to correct a violation of this new law prior to being assessed a fine.

Owners of rental units will be required to install CO devices. In addition:

Owners will be given a right to access a rental unit for the sole purpose of installing, repairing, testing, and maintaining CO devices upon the giving of a 24-hour notice similar to the one required for making necessary repairs in a rental unit.

Tenants will be required to notify the owner or manager if the tenant becomes aware of an inoperable or deficient CO device. This will shift the burden to the tenant if the tenant becomes aware that the device has become inoperable or if the tenant causes the device to become inoperable (i.e. if the tenant has unplugged the unit or removed the batteries).

Owners must ensure CO devices are operable at the time that the tenant takes possession. The owner will be required to correct deficiencies in the CO device thereafter following notice by the tenant and will not be found in violation of this new law unless such tenant has notified the owner or manager. This new law does not affect any rights parties may have under any other provision of law because of the presence or absence of a CO device.

The transfer disclosure statement (TDS) for residential property with one to four units will be amended to require the owner to disclose if the property has one or more CO devices.

The new law provides, “No transfer of title shall be invalidated on the basis of a failure to comply with this section, and the exclusive remedy for the failure to comply with this section is an award of actual damages not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100), exclusive of any court costs and attorney’s fees. This subdivision is not intended to affect any duties, rights, or remedies otherwise available at law.” It further allows for local ordinances that are consistent with its provisions.

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