A Brief on Smoke Alarms - Advantages
House Bill 1168 was passed in the Texas legislature and will was effective starting September 1, 2011. This bill puts stricter laws regarding smoke alarms in properties built both before and after September 2011. This legislation also gives clearance to local authorities to enforce even stricter smoke alarm guidelines on property owners, so be sure to check the local property laws to ensure that you are in accordance to all regulations. This bill is pertinent for the following dwellings:
1. Sing-family home/unit
2. Mobile home
3. Duplex unit
5. Any multi-unit residential unit (i.e. apartment complex)
The placement of smoke alarms in rental properties is now parallel to the Texas model codes. For those looking to invest in Texas property, or for those who already own rental properties, the following are the new regulations you will need to adhere to. Any property built after September 1, 2011 will need to be built according to these codes and properties that were occupied before September 1, 2011 will have until January 1, 2013 to meet state and local rulings.
1. HB 1168 requires at least one (1) smoke alarm in each bedroom. This also means any room that is used for sleeping (den, study, etc.) in the case of an efficiency unit.
2. When several bedrooms are clustered around the same hallway, it is mandatory that a smoke alarm be in that hallway.
3. If the unit is multi-level, the unit is required to have a smoke alarm on each level.
4. If the unit/rental property was occupied before September 1, 2011, the smoke alarms are permitted to be battery-operated and not required to be interconnected with other smoke alarms.
5. If the unit has a 1A10BC fire extinguisher, or if you, as the landlord, have installed any other non-rechargeable fire extinguisher in the unit, then you, as the landlord, are required to inspect the extinguisher both at the beginning of a tenant’s lease and if the tenant ever submits a written request.
6. Fire extinguisher repairs or replacements are the responsibility of the landlord if the extinguisher does not meet manufacturer requirements and/or if the tenant has used it for a legitimate purpose.
What to look for when buying property
As you look to invest in Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio or any surrounding area, it is necessary to keep these new regulations in mind. Get documentation that verifies when the property was built as this will determine your timeline for smoke alarm additions. If the property was complete after 2011 the building should already be equipped with alarms and it should be the responsibility of the previous landlord to install them prior to the sell closing.
Eva Peter - About Author:
Jay Raman is the managing director of Ashoka Lion, a Houston and Dallas area property management firm. Ashoka Lion is a full licensed real estate brokerage in the Houston and Dallas Markets, and you can verify Ashoka Lion’s license with the Texas Real Estate Commission. For more information, please visit: http://rental-property-management.ashokalion.com/
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