Smoke Alarm Inspection Requirements
1. California Law Requires Landlords to Inspect and Maintain All Smoke Alarms
Health & Safety Code § 13113.7(d)(2) requires all landlords, including multi-unit residential properties or single-family residences to install, maintain, and test smoke alarms on their properties. In the case of Golden Eagles Ins. Corp. v. Lemoore Real Estate & Property Management, Inc., the California Appellate Court affirmed a lower court’s judgment for $29 Million Dollars against the property management company and property owner in a lawsuit based upon negligent performance of the property management’s services at an apartment complex that lead to five deaths due to fire in one of the units.
Regardless of whether your lease requires the tenant to inspect the smoke alarm and maintain the smoke alarm, the state law says otherwise. My recommendation is to inspect each unit at leastonce a year to make sure the smoke alarm is operating properly. If you fail to do so, you could be exposing yourself to major liability if there was ever a fire in that unit and the smoke alarm was not operational. I would also ask my tenants, in a letter to them, to inform me if the battery needs changing.
About the Author
Scott Souders is a real estate attorney who has practiced real estate law in excess of 42 years in Southern California. The Real Estate Law Update cites cases or statutes which are summarized and should not be relied upon without fully reading the cases or statute in the advance sheets and shepardizing the same and consulting with your own attorney.