Click her As a homeowner the familiar blood curdling screech or chirp of a smoke alarm when its batteries run low almost always leads to the following order of events at my house: the smoke detector is ripped from the ceiling and set aside for the day until the batteries get replaced. But what does the law say about who has a responsibility to make sure smoke detectors are working properly and kept up to date in a rental housing context? Surprisingly, landlords and tenants share this responsibility in Oregon.
ORS 90 is the general term for the Oregon Landlord Tenant Act. This body of law works with other Oregon laws both at the State and Municipal level to insure that tenants have a place to live that is habitable. There are many duties of both landlords and tenants that can be easily overlooked but are essential to providing a habitable place for tenants / occupants to live! One of these is smoke detectors!
First, upon move-in a landlord is required to furnish working smoke detectors in every rental unit in compliance with local building codes. Title 29 requires smoke detectors to be supplied and installed in all sleeping areas, in hallways adjacent to a sleeping area, and in each additional story of the rental where a habitable space is provided – this includes both basements and attics. Landlord is required to provide fresh new batteries for any battery operated smoke detector in the unit. The final duty of the landlord under ORS 90.320 is to replace any detector which is malfunctioning upon written request from a tenant!
ORS 90.325 places a duty on the tenants and occupants of a rental home not to tamper with a functioning smoke detector. Also, tenants are required under law to check to make sure the smoke detectors are functioning every six months. Tenants are also obligated to replace the batteries in a smoke detector if the battery runs low. ORS 479.275 places the duty on a tenant to give written notice to a landlord for a non-working smoke detector to be replaced. Remember, this is a tenant obligation. Once a notice is received landlords should immediately respond and take appropriate action to make sure that the warrant of habitability is maintained in the rental housing context.
Due to the broad nature of the content in our anticipated post to be released this week regarding Rule and Regulation changes to housing agreements in both multi-family and single-family housing in Oregon, we have instead elected to review what is expected of Landlords and Tenants in the context of Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors in rental housing. Stay tuned next week for our comprehensive review of Rule and Regulation changes under Oregon Law.