The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 became effective on July 1 and requires every existing single-family residence having a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage to install or plug in a carbon monoxide device. Other existing dwelling units will need to have the devices installed by January 1, 2013.

A carbon monoxide detector is a relatively inexpensive device, similar to a smoke detector that signals detection of carbon monoxide in the air. It can be battery powered or a plug-in device with battery backup. The following FAQs on what homeowners should know about the new carbon monoxide law are provided by the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® from information from the California Association of REALTORS®, in accordance with the California Health and Safety Code.

How many devices and where do I place them in the home?

It is recommended that for minimum security, a CO alarm should be centrally located outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms, at least six inches from all exterior walls and at least three feet from supply or return vents.

For new one-to-two family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories and where work requiring a permit for alterations, repairs or additions exceeding $1,000 in existing dwellings units, a CO detector must be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom(s) and on every level, including basements within which fuel-fired appliances are installed and in dwelling units that have attached garages.

Are there any penalties for noncompliance with this law?
A violation is an infraction punishable by a maximum fine of $200 for each offense. However, a property owner must receive a 30-day notice to correct first. If an owner who receives such a notice fails to correct the problem within the 30-day period, then the owner may be assessed the fine.

Can a buyer rescind the sale if the dwelling doesn’t have the necessary carbon monoxide detectors?
While the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) has been amended to incorporate the seller’s certification that, by close of escrow, the seller will be in compliance with existing requirements for CO detector, smoke detector and water heater bracing, the TDS specifically states installation of a CO detector, among other appliances and devices, is not a precondition of sale or transfer of the dwelling.

Does a seller have any special carbon monoxide disclosure obligations?
Disclosure obligations are satisfied when providing a buyer with the TDS. If the seller is exempt from giving a TDS, the law doesn’t require any specific disclosures regarding CO detector devices.

Do landlords have any special obligations regarding carbon monoxide detectors?
All landlords of dwelling units must install carbon monoxide detectors. The CO device must be operable at the time that a tenant takes possession. However, the tenant has the responsibility of notifying the owner or owner’s agent if the tenant becomes aware of an inoperable or deficient CO device. The landlord is not in violation of the law for a deficient or inoperable CO device if he or she has not received notice of the problem from the tenant.

If the California Building Standards Commission adopts or updates building standards relating to carbon monoxide devices in the future, is the owner required to install the newer device?
Yes, when the owner makes an application for a permit for alterations, repairs, or additions to that dwelling unit with the cost exceeding $1,000.