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Old 09-23-2012, 10:40 PM
 
27,750 posts, read 58,138,475 times
Reputation: 22369

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Notice a disturbing trend developing in the rentals I manage in Oakland CA...

Yesterday was a good example of what I'm finding more of...

I did an anniversary inspection of a 1350 square foot 3 bedroom home... everything was in order except the batteries had been pulled back from all 5 smoke detectors and the carbon monoxide detector...

I made note of it, installed all new batteries and had the tenant sign that all are working with new batteries and the date... my city requires landlords to have a policy in place to assure all detectors are maintained.

We are required to have one per bedroom and one per level... which equals 5 for this home.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why I as a Landlord care more about the family's well being then the family does

Detectors are cheap insurance and to pull the batteries is 100% negligence... the reason stated is they go off when cooking... simple enough to close the kitchen door, turn on the fan or open a kitchen window.

At other anniversary inspections this year, I have routinely found batteries missing all together... at one home, the son was using them for one of his video games...

Disabled alarms are both fair market and Section 8 tenants...

Just another thing that requires good Landlord documentation...

The problem is getting noticed at city hall and there is a move to retrofit hard wired detectors that are sealed with no battery to pull... the installation is said to run at least several hundred dollars plus the cost of the permit...
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Old 09-23-2012, 11:38 PM
 
Location: Phoenix AZ
6,286 posts, read 13,081,815 times
Reputation: 10329
Hard wired detectors do have a battery back-up.
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:01 AM
 
27,750 posts, read 58,138,475 times
Reputation: 22369
True... but taking the battery out will not make the detector in-operable as long as there is 120v
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:59 AM
 
Location: Florida
22,243 posts, read 23,043,995 times
Reputation: 26399
Most of the time that I checked the hard-wired alarms they had been pulled out with a wire disconnected.
Worse than having your burnt toast setting it off was having your neighbors burnt toast setting yours off.
The battery-only ones were half the time operating and the other half without batteries..........usually they were missing when people moved.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:45 AM
 
Location: in a cabin overlooking the mountains
3,078 posts, read 4,061,413 times
Reputation: 2263
I'm in the process of turning over an apartment this month. Hard wired smoke detectors with batteries are required as are CO detectors.

When I checked functionality I found that the tenants removed the battery backup AND disconnected the device at the wiring harness.

You can't fix stupidity and the hard wire with battery backup can and will be circumvented by some idiots.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:52 AM
 
232 posts, read 1,552,226 times
Reputation: 238
We rent one half of a duplex, and our smoke detector is located right above the half-staircase that leads to the upper floor. I have no clue who would have installed it in such a crazy spot - the ceiling is around ten feet high at that spot, and you'd need to set up a ladder halfway up on the stairs to be able to access it.

I, personally, hope it's deactivated. I do not want to have that one go off sometime and then have to figure out a way to turn it off without trying to balance a ladder on the stairs.

However, we've also used our own money to purchase smoke detectors for both floors, and I check them on a weekly basis. With the bedrooms upstairs, I am somewhat paranoid and scared of a fire breaking out at night, and us needing to get our young kids out of the house through one of the upstairs bedroom windows. Scary!

I can't believe any smart person would willingly deactivate all alarms and not have any way to be alerted if a fire starts at night. That's putting their own lives in danger - not to mention the landlord's property! Yes, it is inconvenient when you burn your food (or are cooking steaks on high temps, not necessarily burning them, but still creating steam/smoke), but stand under it and wave a kitchen towel, with fans on and the doors open. A tad embarrassing, but isn't it better to do that than to risk DYING?

Sorry you're going through that, OP. Is it in your lease? If not, it should be! Threaten eviction if tenants willfully neglect or make inoperable the smoke detectors.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Seaford, Delaware
3,489 posts, read 18,681,558 times
Reputation: 2686
I have had the problem for years and do not have a solution. Tenants keep removing the batteries. It happens when the batteries wear down and the unit beeps, so they just remove them. I even do inspections after the time change in the fall and spring and ask if the batteries were changed. Test the unit and NO BATTERY!!!!!! I can't fine them. Maybe I could call the fire department to do an inspection. Even with signed documents that the detectors are all functional, they remove the batteries.
It is not required to have hard wired detectors here, I don't think it would matter.
I wish I had a solution, weekly checks is all I can think of and I'm not doing that. Maybe the fire department should do inspections and issue fines.
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:22 AM
 
Location: Gilbert - Val Vista Lakes
6,069 posts, read 13,880,039 times
Reputation: 3862
In our lease agreement, the tenant is responsible to replace the batteries. On inspections, if any batteries are missing, we can replace them and charge the tenant for the batteries.

Same with furnace filters. On a move in, we place a date on the filter (the 3-month type). If the same filter is there when we return, we replace it and charge the tenant.
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Old 09-24-2012, 09:41 AM
 
4,919 posts, read 21,453,440 times
Reputation: 6245
We are allowed to assess fines for violations of health and safety codes proportionate to any fines governement will change. Inoperative smoke detectors have fines ranging from $250 to $15,000 depending on circumstances. Based on that, the PMC charges as follows, missing battery $100 fine per smoke detector. Removed from electrical system $150 per smoke detector. Missing battery and removed from electrical system $500 fine per smoke detector. All smokes removed and inoperatove (units have 2 or 3) $2,000 fine.

The lease specifically mentions the fire safety addendum and each tenant must sign that addendum which is in regular size and bolded type, nothing hidden. We have never had a tenant remove a battery or disconnect (or at least never thatw e saw) smole detectors. We also replace batteries each year at our expense and respond to service calls on smoke detectors within 12 hours.
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Old 09-24-2012, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Boise, ID
8,047 posts, read 26,454,446 times
Reputation: 9396
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Bill View Post
In our lease agreement, the tenant is responsible to replace the batteries. On inspections, if any batteries are missing, we can replace them and charge the tenant for the batteries.

Same with furnace filters. On a move in, we place a date on the filter (the 3-month type). If the same filter is there when we return, we replace it and charge the tenant.
Our lease goes even farther than that. If we do an inspection and there is no battery, or the smoke detector is missing, it is an automatic $100 fine, per smoke detector. *Edit* just saw PF's post above me. Those are some serious fines.

That is a good idea on the filters. Somehow, I never thought about writing the date on it. I'm going to start doing that.
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