HAVE YOU COMPLIED WITH MARYLAND’S NEW SMOKE ALARM LAW? ITS REQUIREMENTS WENT INTO EFFECT JANUARY 1, 2018.
LEARN HERE WHAT YOU NEED TO DO AND HOW TO ADVISE YOUR CLIENTS TO PREVENT PENALTIES.
The New Year marked the deadline for Maryland property owners to bring their smoke alarms up to date under the new law. Doing so will aid in passing a home inspection and avoiding penalties, not to mention ensuring that your home is equipped with safer, more dependable alarms. There is some confusion as to what the requirements are for smoke alarms as well as where they need to be placed, to which the chart below and this article will clarify.
First, gather the answers to these questions:
- What year was the property built?
- Is the current system hardwired, hardwired with a battery back-up, or only battery-operated?
- Where are the smoke alarms located?
Section 9-104 of the Public Safety Article requires that any battery-operated smoke alarm in residential property must now be a sealed, tamper resistant unit incorporating a silence/hush button and using long-life batteries, projected to have a ten (10) year lifespan. The silence/hush button allows an occupant to temporarily silence an alarm when they have set it off accidently and the occupant is aware of and can fix the issue (for example, burnt food on the stove). Down the road, when these units are ten years past the date of manufacture (written on the unit), the law requires that they be replaced. The property owner is responsible for complying with the law; however, tenants are responsible for notifying their landlord of any problems with alarms, such as hearing the “end of life” sound during the ten-year cycle, to which the landlord is then on notice to repair.
If the property is currently hardwired, leave the system alone, and do not replace it with battery-operated units. However, you still need to ensure that the property has smoke alarms in all areas required by the statute. If not, the long-life battery smoke alarms must be installed where necessary. To determine the requirements for your home, compare your answers to Numbers 1-3 with this chart:
Important Dates & Where Alarms Are Required
- A hardwired system (alternating current (AC) primary electric power unit) is required in homes built on or after July 1, 1975, and a battery backup to a hardwired system is required in homes built on or after July 1, 1990.
- For homes built prior to January 1, 1989, an alarm is required in each “sleeping area”, meaning a space that includes one or more sleeping rooms and a hall or common area immediately adjacent to any sleeping room.
- For homes built on or after January 1, 1989, in addition to an alarm in each sleeping area, at least one alarm must be installed on each level of the home, including basements and excluding unoccupied attics, garages, and crawl spaces.
- For homes built on or after July 1, 2013, at least one smoke alarm must be installed in each sleeping room (meaning an enclosed room with a bed arranged to be used as a bedroom), in the hallway or common area outside of sleeping rooms, and in the hallway or common area on each level within a residential dwelling unit, including basements and excluding unoccupied attics, garages, and crawl spaces. All of the alarms must be hardwired interconnected.
- Each sleeping room occupied by a deaf or hard of hearing individual must include a smoke alarm suitable to alert that individual. For more information, see Section 9-105 at https://govt.westlaw.com/mdc/Document/N03E32F80D9D811E2A5EFA1428CB399FF?viewType=FullText&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=CategoryPageItem&contextData=(sc.Default)&bhcp=1
A person who violates the new smoke alarm law is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) days or a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or both.
- Brianne Paugh
Readers with questions about this or any real estate legal matter can reach Brianne at 301-698-9300.
*Brianne Paugh is an Attorney with Village Settlements, Inc. and The Law Offices of Parker, Simon, Hahn & DeLisi, LLC, in Frederick, Maryland, and is an Adjunct Professor of Real Estate Law at Frederick Community College. Brianne was selected as the 2017 Affiliate of the Year by the Frederick County Association of Realtors.
For the specific statutory language of Sec. 9-103 (new construction) and Sec. 9-104 (older residential units), see https://govt.westlaw.com/mdc/Document/N04F64D30D9D811E2A5EFA1428CB399FF?viewType=FullText&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=CategoryPageItem&contextData=(sc.Default) and