Smoke Alarms in Baltimore City Rental Property
Baltimore City released its 4th version of the Inspection Checklist (dated 10/29).
This update includes a couple of nuances, such as stating that the property “appears” to be free of leaks in water lines and drain lines, the major change is adding the word “appears”.
item I.2 is new, requiring an entry door with a lock that works.
The addition of a general condition, similar to Baltimore County’s inspection form, asking the inspector to note “any other readily observable problems that in the inspector’s opinion represent an immediate threat to the health and safety of the occupant”. This is a referral item, meaning the inspector cannot fail you on this situation. They will pass the inspection but they will also call in the issue to City Housing Inspector. The City Housing Inspector is then supposed to investigate the matter and, if appropriate, issue a Violation Notice, which the landlord must correct.
The new form provides information on the process to appeal a home inspector’s failure of one or more items. So, if you disagree with the home inspector’s determination, you can provide documentation, photos, etc. and appeal for review by Baltimore Housing.
Under “notes” at the end of the form is a disclaimer that the home inspector is not performing a pest inspection (otherwise the home inspector would need to be licensed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
The Checklist for Multi-family properties eliminates the requirement that the home inspector check for secondary egress.
The “Inspector Guidance” includes several changes.
The Home Inspector is asked to check all accessible outlets.
The requirements for Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide have been clarified, with a chart for one-family and two-family buildings, and a separate chart for multi-family buildings (those with 2 dwelling units plus at least one other use).
Note the following:
- any smoke alarm that malfunctions or is more than 10 years old must be replaced.
- 1 & 2-family properties built/renovated after 1996 require smoke alarms inside each bedroom; otherwise they are required outside of each sleeping area.
- interconnected smoke alarms are required for properties built/renovated after 1989.
- sealed battery, non-electric powered, smoke alarms are permitted where hard wired smoke alarms did not previously exist.
- hardwired smoke alarms must have a battery back-up, but not necessarily a 10-year sealed backup battery.
- 3+ multi-unit properties: If, in 2009, a property had smoke alarms outside the sleeping areas, they are not required to upgrade to the requirement of placing smoke alarms inside each sleeping area.
- 3+ multi-family properties that have a sprinkler system require smoke alarms, but the alarms are not required to have battery backup.
- 3+ multi-family properties built/renovated after 1996 are required to have hardwired smoke alarms with a battery backup. Battery smoke alarms are permitted in buildings built/renovated before 1996.
CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS:
required in any building that has gas appliances, gas fireplace, wood stoves, or an attached garage. Carbon Monoxide Alarms must be placed outside each sleeping area, on every level of the unit, including basement, excluding attics and crawl spaces.
Existing basement bedrooms appear to be permitted. The Guidance document states “An emergency escape and rescue opening is not required where existing basements undergo repair or alterations.” Emergency escape and rescue openings are required for “new sleeping rooms created in existing basements”.