Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Carbon Monoxide Alarms Now Required in Rentals

An alert student journalist at the Western Front recently wrote an article on a Washington State requirement to install carbon monoxide monitors in residential properties.  Daniel Miller, who is interested in issues regarding rental conditions, wrote that as of January 1st of this year all residential properties must have one of these detectors in each  dwelling unit.  Single family dwellings that were owner-occupied before 2009 are excepted.  You can read Daniel's article by clicking here.

The requirement has been on the books for some time now, however, it appears that not everyone is aware of the mandate.  You can read the relevant portion of the Revised Code of Washington (19.27.530) by clicking here.  The intent of the legislation was expressed in a footnote to the law's text:

"The legislature recognizes that carbon monoxide poses a serious threat. According to national statistics from the centers for disease control, carbon monoxide kills more than five hundred people and accounts for an estimated twenty thousand emergency department visits annually. Specifically, Washington state has experienced the dire effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. In the storms that struck Washington in December 2006, it was estimated that over one thousand people in the state were seen at hospital emergency rooms with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and eight people reportedly died of carbon monoxide exposure. It is the intent of the legislature to implement policies to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future."

One wonders how many of Bellingham's 17,000+ rentals have been furnished with these alarms.  The onus is on the landlord to provide these appliances, however, the tenant is required to ensure that the batteries in the devices are operational.  Again, ignorance of the requirement on the part of both the tenant and the landlord could have fatal consequences.  An effective rental health and safety ordinance in the city of Bellingham can go a long way towards ensuring this and other codes are followed in our rentals. 


Zonemaven said...

Comment received from a reader in a separate email: "I've had a CO alarm in my house (whether in WA or IA) for a long time. I'm sure you know this already, but many people do not. Accumulation of CO is insidious. Unlike smoke alarms, CO alarms must be placed at a low point in a house or apartment since heat rises but CO is heavier than air and sinks. The directions that come with the alarms are usually pretty good about pointing this out, but several people I knew in Iowa wanted to install their CO alarms right next to their smoke detectors - on the ceiling. Putting the alarm in the wrong place can negate the protection. If landlords contract with soemone to install CO alarms in their properties, one would hope that it would be done correctly. However, if all the landlord does is hand the alarm - still in the box - to a tenant, there's no guarantee that it will be installed at all, let alone in the right place. Just sayin'..."

Anonymous said...

Carbon Monoxide and fire alarms should be entirely the obligation of a landlord. Each January the manager [of my rental] changed the fire alarm battery at my expense. CM [carbon monoxide]alarms were not required back in the late '80s into mid '90s. We can't depend on renters, especially student tenants, to change batteries. It won't break the bank at Monte Carlo for a landlord or manager to change alarm batteries at the start of the calendar year. CM has a component that has a shelf-life of 5 to 6 years. Again, landlord or manager should maintain a record when the unit has to be replaced or serviced with more than a simple battery.

They keep throwing sand in your eyes. I wonder if there was ever a tenant fire that resulted in multiple deaths or serious injuries in B'ham. If not, the landlords or managers are playing the percentages. "Disasters never happened to tenants and won't now. That [Zonemaven] is all-wet."

Zonemaven said...

In 1995 six people lost their lives in a Meridian St (Bellingham)rental home that was equipped with smoke detectors that contained no batteries.

De Clizbe said...

I have had carbon monoxide detectors in my rentals since purchasing them in 1998. In addition we have had them in our personal residence since the beginning of time. What is very clear to me is that some people can think for themselves and make decisions on how to protect themselves. Others need the government to do that for them.

Local City Councilman Jack Weiss apparently can't make these decisions on his own. He admitted that he did not have a CO monitored installed even though the law said he must. Shall we inspect his house now too? After all he clearly does not make safe choices and is putting his children at risk.

It nauseates me that you want to dumb renters down so much by suggesting they shouldn't even be responsible for keeping batteries in their smoke alarms. What next? Should I go in a flush the toilet for them too because it would be unhealthy for them to not flush.

Go ahead, enact law after law that makes people rely on someone else to look after them and what will you get? Stupid people

Zonemaven said...

Delaine Clizbe!

How delightful it is to see you are now reading my blog after I suggested you do so on NWCitizen ( ) If you read other blog entries here on Twilight Zoning you will find that I have already addressed the issues you raise in your comment. For some reason you just cannot abide the fact that government would have a say in the matter of your offering a clean and safe rental to the public. Think of government protection next time you buy food at the grocery store and thank heaven that you don't have to buy food in a third world country at a market filthy with flies, rats, roaches and other vermin. If you sell it in America, it had better be a safe product. Or are you an expert on food safety, automobiles, appliances, medicines, buildings, bridges, etc.? Is it not nice to know that someone is looking out for defects that can kill or injure you or your family?