Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

May 15, 2018 | By Charles Botensten

Q. I am a licensed real estate salesperson and a tenant of mine is looking to rent an apartment in New York City.  My tenant and I noticed that the last apartment we had visited did not have a carbon monoxide detector installed.   Is the landlord under an obligation to install a carbon monoxide detector for the tenant if the tenant rents the apartment? If so, will my tenant have to contribute to the installation costs?

A: In New York City, a landlord must install a working carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector in residential buildings (houses, condominiums, co-ops, etc.). The only exceptions are for houses and buildings that do not have a furnace, boiler, and/or water heater that burns fossil fuel (gas, oil or coal), and do not have other potential carbon monoxide sources such as fireplaces, enclosed parking, or commercial ranges.  

New York City law requires the building owner to pay for the cost of the carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector, as well as to pay for any costs associated with the installation of the detectors.  However, the building owner may collect a reimbursement of up to $25 from the tenant for the cost and installation of each smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector that is newly installed, or $50 for each joint smoke/carbon monoxide detector that is newly installed.  Upon inspection of the premises, if it is determined that no operational smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector is installed, the prospective tenant or purchaser (in the event of a sales transaction), should inquire as to who will be installing the detectors prior to executing the lease or prior to the closing of the transaction. 

Important Tip: In every sales transaction involving residential property in New York City, a Real Property Transfer Tax Return (the "RPT") must be filed with the New York City Department of Finance.  In order to file the RPT, a Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Affidavit must be signed by the purchaser and the seller confirming that an operational smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector are installed at the premises.

The Legal Line Question by:
Neil B. Garfinkel
REBNY Broker Counsel

Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP