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Illinois Landlords Must Follow Public Safety Law
For Carbon Monoxide Detectors


Introduction:

   Beginning January 2007, all Illinois landlords must comply with a new state law regarding the selection, installation and maintenance of carbon monoxide detectors. According to the Illinois Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector Act, 430 ILCS 135/1 et. seq., an approved carbon monoxide detector must be installed in every dwelling unit within 15-feet of every room used for sleeping purposes. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the Act for owners, landlords, property managers, builders, architects, attorneys and other professionals involved in renting or leasing residential real estate.

Types of Approved Carbon Monoxide Detectors:
  
Under the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector Act, an “Approved carbon monoxide alarm" or "alarm" means a carbon monoxide alarm that complies with all the requirements of the rules and regulations of the Illinois State Fire Marshal, bears the label of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, and complies with the most recent standards of the Underwriters Laboratories or the Canadian Standard Association. 430 ILCS 135/3.  The carbon monoxide alarms may be either battery powered, plug-in with battery back-up, or wired into the structure’s AC power line with secondary battery back-up. 430 ILCS 135/10(d). The Act permits combined smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm detectors that meet specific requirements, such as sounding different alarms depending on the danger detected.

Owner Responsibilities:
   It is the responsibility of the owner of the structure to supply and install all required alarms. 430 ILCS 135/10(c). It is also the owner’s responsibility to provide one tenant per dwelling unit with written information regarding alarm testing and maintenance. 430 ILCS 135/10(c). Owners, landlords and property managers should ensure this information is included with their Tenant leases as part of the leasing or renewal process. The owner is also responsible for ensuring that the batteries are in operating condition at the time the tenant takes possession of the dwelling unit. 430 ILCS 135/10(c).

Tenant Responsibilities:
   According to the Act, it is the responsibility of a tenant to test and to provide general maintenance for the alarms within the tenant's dwelling unit or rooming unit, and to notify the owner or the authorized agent of the owner in writing of any deficiencies that the tenant cannot correct. 430 ILCS 135/10(c). The tenant is also responsible for replacement of any required batteries in the carbon monoxide alarms in the tenant's dwelling unit during the tenancy. 430 ILCS 135/10(c). The Act provides that the tenant shall provide the owner or the authorized agent of the owner with access to the dwelling unit to correct any deficiencies in the carbon monoxide alarm that have been reported in writing to the owner or the authorized agent of the owner. 430 ILCS 135/10(c).

Exemptions:
   The Act exempts residential units in buildings that: (i) do not rely on combustion of fossil fuel for heat, ventilation, or hot water; (ii) are not connected in any way to a garage; and (iii) are not sufficiently close to any ventilated source of carbon monoxide, as determined by the local building commissioner, to receive carbon monoxide from that source. 430 ILCS 135/20(1). The Act further vests discretion in the local building commissioner to exempt residential units that are not sufficiently close to any source of carbon monoxide so as to be at risk of receiving carbon monoxide from that source. 430 ILCS 135/20(2).

Local Code Requirements:
   Local municipalities may impose further requirements that are more restrictive than those of the Act. Chicago, for instance, imposes further more specific conditions regarding carbon monoxide detectors in the Chicago Municipal Code Section 13-196-165 and Chapters 13-64 and 18-28.

Conclusion:
   Owners, landlords, property managers, builders, architects, attorneys and other professionals dealing with rental property in Illinois need to familiarize themselves with the Illinois Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector Act and local codes to ensure compliance and integrate the laws requirements into new and existing real estate projects. Obtaining a written acknowledgement from the tenant is a fool-proof way of proving an owner’s compliance with the Act’s written disclosure requirement. Larger buildings with associations and newsletters may want to include the required information with association billing statements, in a newsletter, on their websites, or as part of other communications with the Tenant community. 

Article Sources:
430 ILCS 135/1, et. seq.; Illinois General Assembly, An Act concerning safety. P.A. 94-741, approved May 8, 2006, effective January 1, 2007; Chicago Municipal Code, Section 13-196-165 and Chapters 13-64 and 18-28.

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     Hot Tip
  Check the batteries in your Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors frequently.
 

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