How Many Smoke and CO Detectors are Required in California When Renting or Leasing?

The rule when leasing is similar to the requirements when selling a home in the state of California.

Are the requirements for locating smoke alarms different if you rent or lease property vs selling? Slightly. The difference is that if the property is rented or leased then the smoke alarms must be located in compliance with the most recent building standards.

What are other landlord responsibilities regarding smoke alarms? The landlord is responsible for testing and maintaining the smoke alarms in all units even in single family dwellings. The tenant cannot be made responsible for this, but the tenant has a duty to notify the owner if the tenant becomes aware of an inoperable smoke alarm.

Where should smoke detectors be placed? Working smoke detectors need to be in each bedroom, and bedroom hallway, and on each level at least. Carbon monoxide detectors must be on every level, and in any sleeping room with a gas appliance, ie fireplace or heater.

Landlords and tenants typically have it written and agreed to in their lease agreement that the landlord is responsible for supplying the needed detectors, and that the tenant is responsible for advising the landlord if the detectors are not working.

For a single level three bedroom home, minimum of four smoke detectors and one CO detector are required. If the home is a two level home with three bedrooms, it would require five smoke detectors and two CO detectors total at a minimum.

And for 2024, as well as for previous years since 2014, the state of California requires – when renting or leasing – all newly installed battery only type smoke detectors to have a 10 year battery installed inside which can not be removed or replaced. If the smoke detector is hard wired, you can either have a normal battery (ie 9 volt battery or AA batteries) as the backup battery or a 10 year type (one you can not replace) back up battery.

Carbon monoxide detectors do not have this rule. CO detectors may be battery type, hard wired, or the plug in type of detector. Carbon monoxide detectors, when renting or leasing, need to be on every level and in any sleeping room with a gas appliance (ie fireplace, water heater). More on CO detectors here.

If the home is an ‘attached’ style of home (condo, apartment, etc), all new smoke detectors must be hard wired in the state of California. This link here is the difference between a hard wired smoke detector and a battery only type smoke detector.

Combo detectors like this one are best when renting or leasing, as they detect both smoke and carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide, or CO, can be dangerous or deadly at high levels. Landlords are advised to do more than the minimum required, and to check all detectors on a regular schedule. This is to protect the tenant as well as the landlords liability. Maintenance checks should be documented.

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Where and how to mount smoke detectors? Best to mount all smoke detectors on the ceiling. If in the bedrooms, mount the detector on the ceiling near the entry door. If in the bedroom hallway, mount the detector central to all bedrooms. Do not mount the smoke detector near the kitchen or bathrooms due to steam setting off the detectors. Also mount smoke detectors in the basement if there is one. In California, all smoke detector must have a 10 year battery installed for them to be legal when selling.

Carbon monoxide detectors can be mounted either on the ceiling, on the wall, or near the floor. This is because the gravity of carbon monoxide is very close to the gravity of air. Mount CO detectors in plain view in case they get triggered. Do not mount CO detectors in bathrooms or closets.

Call us with any questions you may have at 310-800-4418, or send us a question using the comment box below.

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