Smoke alarm regulations for California residential rental properties

California requirements for smoke detectorsSo, do I really have to replace all my smoke alarms with 10-year battery versions? No, not necessarily. The California Senate Bill 745 changed the law so that every new smoke detector sold and installed in California must come with a 10-year battery that can’t be removed. In addition, all new smoke alarms must have a manual silencing feature and a designated place to write the installation date by January 1, 2015. The new law does not apply to alarms that are hard-wired.

The new devices cannot be turned off and will still chirp when the battery gets low. However, they will be required to have a “hush” feature to stop the chirping. But, you do not have to change out the old ones for the new type yet. You only need to install the 10-year battery models when:

  • A current detector isn’t working.
  • Work is done to a unit requiring a permit – and when the value of the work totals $1,000 or more.

In 2016, more requirements took effect, with smoke detectors required in all bedrooms and other
rooms where people sleep, in accordance with state fire marshal regulations. In most jurisdictions, you will also need to install one just outside the sleeping area as well. If you know tenants are using a bonus room or other room in the house as a sleeping area, be sure to install one there as well.

Rental property owners are responsible for testing and maintaining smoke alarms. When it comes time to replace one, you’ll need to install a smoke detector that:

  • Displays the date of manufacture on the device
  • Provides a place on the device where the date of installation can be written
  • Incorporates a hush feature
  • Incorporates an end-of-life feature with notice that the device needs replacing
  • If battery operated, contains a non-replaceable, non-removable battery capable of powering the smoke alarm for at least 10 years.

Determining how often to test is an issue, but one easy solution is to do it at the time change in the spring and fall. It also gives you a good way to do a basic condition inspection and make sure the furnace filter has been changed. Just give your tenants notice and plan to check things out.