The Responsibility of Landlords to Maintain Smoke or Carbon Monoxide Detectors

According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, more than 430 people die in the United States every year from unintentional, non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition, approximately 3,000 people die every year from home fires, with about 75% of those deaths resulting from smoke inhalation. Officials say that the installation of functioning smoke and carbon monoxide alarms could eliminate a significant number of those fatalities.

If you are a homeowner, the responsibility is yours to ensure that you have functioning safety devices such as carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. But what if you are simply renting property? Does your landlord have any type of duty to install either type of alarm?

The Law in New Jersey

As a general rule, a landlord must take reasonable steps to ensure that property does not pose a risk or injury to anyone on the property. It’s unclear whether this would mandate that a landlord install smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. However, the New Jersey legislature has enacted specific statutes addressing the issue. State law requires that the owner of residential rental property must obtain both a Certificate of Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm Compliance from local fire officials prior to initial occupancy of rental property, or upon a change in occupancy. A landlord may obtain a certificate for up to 12 months that will cover all changes in tenancy during that period.

There is an exception to the requirement with respect to a carbon monoxide alarm. Such an alarm is not required if the building does not have an attached garage and does not contain any fuel-burning appliances—i.e., all heaters, stoves, and such are electric.

If one of the tenants is deaf or hearing impaired, and makes a request, the landlord must install a visual smoke and carbon monoxide detector.

Contact Aronberg & Kouser, P. A., Attorneys at Law

At Aronberg & Kouser, P. A., we have more than 35 years of experience helping people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Contact us by e-mail or call our office at 856-429-1700 (toll free at 800-49-JUSTICE). Your initial consultation is free.

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