New Maryland Carbon Monoxide Detector Law Effective in April

April 1 is the deadline for landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors in rental units. According to legislation that passed in 2016, in dwellings that rely on fossil fuel for heat, ventilation, hot water, or clothes dryer operation, carbon monoxide detectors must be installed on every level of a home, and in the immediate vicinity of sleeping areas.

The law – Code of Maryland Article 12, Subtitle 1101 – requires carbon monoxide detectors to be hardwired, meaning they are connected via a circuit, so if one alarm is triggered, all alarms in the home will activate. But there are some exceptions. Hardwired detectors are required only in homes for which a construction permit was issued on or after Jan. 1, 2008 (because older homes might not easily accommodate hardwired systems).

What’s New About This Law

Maryland enacted a law in 2007 that, as of Jan. 1, 2008, required all newly constructed homes to have hardwired carbon monoxide detectors. In 2009, that law was amended to require landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors, but those devices did not have to be hardwired. So the new law that takes effect this year clarifies the type of carbon monoxide detectors required in rental homes.

Other Provisions

Some sections of the new law were effective April 1, 2017 – Subtitle 1104 requires operators of hotels, lodges, and rooming houses to install carbon monoxide detectors on a wall inside each room or area that:

  • Contains a device that emits carbon monoxide
  • Is adjacent to a room or area that contains a device that emits carbon monoxide
  • Is adjacent to an enclosed unventilated attached garage.

Carbon monoxide detectors must also be installed in guest rooms that are connected by ductwork to an enclosed unventilated attached garage or a room that contains a carbon monoxide-emitting device.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide gas is a natural byproduct of fossil fuels. Home appliances that use fossil fuel release the gas via a vent to the outside; but if vents are blocked, or an appliance malfunctions, carbon monoxide may accumulate inside a home.

Once inhaled, carbon monoxide disrupts the bloodstream’s ability to carry oxygen. High concentrations of the gas can be fatal, and more than a third of all carbon monoxide-related deaths occur when people are sleeping. Exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide over time may cause flu-like symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, carbon monoxide poisoning accounts for 400 deaths per year, 20,000 emergency room visits, and 4,000 hospitalizations. Non-fatal carbon monoxide poisoning may cause neurological problems, blindness, personality changes, and severe intellectual impairment.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, so detectors and alarms are the only way to quickly detect it. Landlords should also maintain appliances that burn fossil fuel and have them serviced once per year. In homes with fireplaces, chimneys should be inspected and cleaned once per year, and landlords may also want to show tenants how to properly operate the fireplace.

Lusk Law, LLC, specializes in assisting landlords, helping to avoid litigation when possible, and actively representing our clients in court when litigation is necessary. Our experienced attorneys have provided legal counsel and representation to landlords in Frederick County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Carroll County, Washington County, Anne Arundel County, and other counties in Maryland. Please call us at 443-535-9715 or fill out our contact form if you have any questions about this topic.

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