The Carbon Monoxide Detector Law

Raziel Ungar

July 30th, 2011 - 2 min read
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As of July 1, 2011, all homeowners in California are now required to have carbon monoxide detectors installed. It's a pretty good law, one that I'm sure is bound to save many lives. As carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, it's crucial that we all have them in our homes for protection...if you did have a leak in your home, you likely wouldn't detect it until too late. The detector can be either battery powered or hard-wired, and the law applies to owners of residental rental property as well. A violation is punishable by a maximum fine of $200 for each offense (see below). It's pretty easy to pick one up at any local drugstore, hardware store, or online at places like Amazon.com.

The below handy FAQ is from the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors blog:

How many devices and where do I place them in the home? It is recommended that for minimum security, a CO alarm should be centrally located outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms, at least six inches from all exterior walls and at least three feet from supply or return vents.

For new one-to-two family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories and where work requiring a permit for alterations, repairs or additions exceeding $1,000 in existing dwellings units, a CO detector must be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom(s) and on every level, including basements within which fuel-fired appliances are installed and in dwelling units that have attached garages.

Are there any penalties for noncompliance with this law? A violation is an infraction punishable by a maximum fine of $200 for each offense. However, a property owner must receive a 30-day notice to correct first. If an owner who receives such a notice fails to correct the problem within the 30-day period, then the owner may be assessed the fine.

Can a buyer rescind the sale if the dwelling doesn’t have the necessary carbon monoxide detectors? While the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) has been amended to incorporate the seller’s certification that, by close of escrow, the seller will be in compliance with existing requirements for CO detector, smoke detector and water heater bracing, the TDS specifically states installation of a CO detector, among other appliances and devices, is not a precondition of sale or transfer of the dwelling.

For those who'd like to view the original language from the bill (also available via this link on p. 90):

This bill would enact the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010. This bill would require the State Fire Marshal to certify and approve carbon monoxide devices and their instructions, as specified, for the use in dwelling units intended for human occupancy, as defined. The bill would 90require the State Fire Marshal to charge an appropriate fee to the manufacturer of a carbon monoxide device to cover the costs associated with the approval and listing of carbon monoxide devices. The bill would prohibit the marketing, distribution, or sale of devices unless they and their instructions have been approved and listed by the State Fire Marshal. The bill would require a carbon monoxide device to be installed in a dwelling unit intended for human occupancy, as specified, and would generally provide that a violation of these provisions is an infraction punishable by a maximum fine of $200 for each offense, but the bill would require that a property owner receive a 30-day notice to correct prior to the imposition of the fine. By creating a new crime, this bill would create a state-mandated local program. The bill would provide that a transfer of title is not invalidated on the basis of a failure to comply with these requirements, and that the exclusive remedy for the failure to comply is an award of actual damages not to exceed $100, exclusive of any court costs and attorney’s fees. This bill would require an owner or the owner’s agent of a dwelling unit intended for human occupancy who rents or leases the dwelling unit to a tenant to maintain carbon monoxide devices in that dwelling unit. The bill would permit the owner or the owner’s agent to enter that dwelling unit to install, repair, test, and maintain carbon monoxide devices, as specified.

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