Maryland Law and Carbon Monoxide Alarms for Rental Units

Carbon Monoxide Alarms have been required in all Maryland new and existing rental properties since April 1st, 2018.   These alarms are now required to be installed outside of each sleeping area, on every level of the unit, including the basement – if the building contains any fuel burning equipment, wood burning appliances or has an enclosed attached garage.  They are not required in rental units that are powered solely by an electric supply.

Carbon monoxide alarms are defined as devices that are capable of detecting carbon monoxide. When an unhealthy accumulation of carbon monoxide is sensed, the device is capable of producing a distinct and audible sound that warns the residents.

 What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious public health concern. Statistics published by The People’s Law library of Maryland show that more than 10,000 people are poisoned by carbon monoxide and require medical treatment each year. Annually more than 500 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S alone.

When is a Landlord liable for an injury to a tenant or visitor to the rental property?

Landlords have the responsibility to maintain the premises and take steps to avoid the injury or accident to the tenant.  It is the landlord’s responsibility to fix the problem, or at least give adequate warnings, and correct the situation within a reasonable period of time.  The landlord’s failure or negligence to fix a dangerous situation, can result in a lawsuit.

To be held responsible for an injury on the premises, the landlord or property manager must have been negligent in maintaining the property and that negligence must have caused the injury.

As part of the defense for the lawsuit, landlords should maintain written information on alarm installation, alarm testing and alarm maintenance.  Notification to hearing -impaired residents should also be maintained.

A tenant can file a personal injury lawsuit or claim against the landlord’s general liability insurance as a result of faulty maintenance, unsafe conditions or failure to comply with state laws.

General liability insurance policies generally provide coverage to protect owners and managers for carbon monoxide cases.

Can associations be held liable for premises liability, where the liability arose inside a unit from a component that was unit owner-controlled?  Is there a duty on the part of the association to inform all owners who rent their property of these new laws?  Certainly, the association would want to make sure the governing documents are written to require owners to maintain their property and comply with state and federal laws.

 How do you Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

  • Do not use portable generators indoors, including in garages, carports, storage sheds, even with the doors open. CO can quickly build to lethal levels in partially enclosed spaces.
  • Hire qualified professionals to install new furnaces and appliances and to inspect and service your HVAC system, chimneys and flues.
  • Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skills and tools.
  • Never use portable fuel-burning equipment indoors.
  • Never leave a car running in a garage.
  • Never use your gas oven or clothes dryer to heat your home.
  • Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
  • Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil. Doing so blocks the air flow through the appliance and can produce CO.
  • Install CO detectors throughout your home, especially in hallways near sleeping areas and follow manufacturers’ instructions for testing and replacing.
  • Keep detectors unobstructed by furniture or draperies.

How to Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The alarms need to be installed in one of the following ways:

  • Hardwired with a secondary battery backup
  • Battery powered using a battery with a life of at least 10 years
  • Through a security system
  • Combined with a hard-wired smoke alarm

 Tips to remember:

  • -Install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of the unit including the basement.
  • -Place a CO detector in or near each bedroom of your home.
  • -Write the date purchased on the back of each alarm.
  • -Write the replacement date replace on each battery and change batteries as needed or every 6 to 12 months.
  • -Clean CO detectors yearly by gently vacuuming or blow detectors out with canned air.
  • -Replace carbon monoxide detectors every 10 years.


Connie Phillips, CIC, LUTCF, EBP, CIRMS

Connie Phillips Insurance