The Pennsylvania Code requires a landlord to install a smoke detector on just about every flat surface in a rental property. The goal of a multiple smoke detector system is to achieve redundancy so if one detector malfunctions, the others can still work to protect tenants. A landlord who fails to comply with state smoke detector laws runs a serious risk of criminal and civil liability.
Approved Smoke Detectors
A landlord in Pennsylvania may only use smoke detectors that meet the operating requirements of the Department of Labor and Industry or have the approval of Underwriters Laboratories, according to chapter 3800.130. of the Pennsylvania Code. A landlord installing smoke detectors that do not meet these requirements is breaking the law and may incur significant liability if damage to the rental property or injury to tenants results from this negligent act. A landlord can determine if his smoke detectors carry Underwriters Laboratories approval by searching for the "UL" logo on the body of the smoke detectors.
A landlord must install an operable automatic smoke detector within 15 feet of every bedroom in a rental property. This means more than one smoke detector may be necessary to meet Pennsylvania Code requirements. If a smoke detector becomes inoperable, it is the landlord's responsibility to make repairs to the detector within 48 hours of receiving a notice from tenants. Failure to make a timely repair to a smoke detector is a violation of the landlord's obligation to maintain the rental property in accordance with Pennsylvania building safety standards.
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General Floor Requirements
A rental property must have at least one working smoke detector on each floor of the property, including the basement and attic. The minimum one smoke detector is in addition to any smoke detectors legally required near bedrooms. A landlord must install the minimum smoke detector on each floor in either a common area or hallway of that floor. If a landlord is renting a facility that houses three or more children, there must be an interconnected smoke detector on each floor that is audible from any location in the building.
Safety Plan Requirements
Each tenant of a rental property must have a copy of the landlord's fire safety monitoring plan. This document displays fire safety requirements in the event a smoke detector or fire alarm system is temporarily inoperable. The fire safety monitoring plan shoudl also include the apartment's escape route in the event of a fire and inform each tenant of the proper procedure for contacting the landlord in the event of a fire emergency and the contact information of the local fire department.