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Colorless and Tasteless, But Not Costless for Building Owners

Many people are aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and most take the very necessary precaution of installing a CO detector in their homes.  Until this year, landlords were required to install CO detectors for their tenants under legislation passed in 2004.  However, CO detectors only have a useful life of about 6 years and, as a result, detectors installed in 2004 are now due for a replacement.

On December 27, 2011, Mayor Bloomberg signed Local Law 75 (the “Law”) which went into effect on April 27, 2012.  The Law requires, among other things, that all owners of class A multiple dwellings and private dwellings install CO detectors in each dwelling unit and replace such devices upon the expiration of their useful life.   The occupants are obligated to maintain the devices in good repair and to replace any device which is stolen, removed, missing or which stop working (NYC Administrative Code, §27-2046.1(b) and (c)).  Owners of class B multiple dwellings have the option of either installing a CO detector in each dwelling unit or a line-operated zoned carbon monoxide detecting system with central office tie-in and annunciation in all public corridors and spaces.  (NYC Administrative Code §27-2046.2).  Class A multiple dwelling are permanent residences and Class B are temporary residences.

The Law specifically sets forth that a CO detector installed prior to the April 2012 must be replaced by the owner when its useful life expires or by October 27, 2012 (6 months after the effective date of the law), whichever is later.

One question that comes to mind is whether owners of co-op or condo apartments are responsible for installing their own CO detectors.

In a condominium form of ownership, unit owners themselves are typically responsible for complying with regulations covering smoke detectors, window guards, asbestos and lead paint, while the condo board is responsible for complying with regulations concerning the common elements.

In a cooperative form of ownership, the board is the owner of the building and not the individual unit owners and it is the responsibility of the co-op to install smoke detectors, window guards, and deal with asbestos and lead paint.

However, Information on the City’s website indicates that, for owner-occupied coops and condos, the board and the shareholders must decide who is responsible for compliance with the law.

Although it is unclear, it seems that condo owners will be responsible for installing their own CO detectors while coop owners can rely on the coop corporation to do so.

In any case, all property owners should take steps to understand the Law, not only to avoid unnecessary fines or violations, but also to ensure that alarms are working in good order to avoid potential tragedies.  We suggest that regardless of who is responsible, occupants regularly test the detectors to make sure they are working.

For more information about carbon monoxide and NYC’s detector requirements, click here for the City’s FAQ’s pamphlet.

By Nahum M. Palefski and Jerome J. Strelov

Category: News Comment »

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