Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Required - Contract Provision?

    Time and again, we have to send appraisers back out to re-inspect properties to verify the presence of both Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors.

    This is frustrating for us because the detector requirements have been in place in CA since 2010, the re-inspections can delay closings, and agents often inexplicably get upset with us and demand that we cover the $175 re-inspection fee.

    In addition, installing smoke and CO detectors is simply good practice, given that the detectors are inexpensive and that there are over 350,000 residential fires annually and over 50,000 emergency medical visits every year resulting from CO poisoning.

    Contract Provisions

    One of the agents we work with puts the below provision in all of her contracts to ensure there are smoke and CO detectors in place when the appraiser arrives:

    “The seller must have all required smoke and CO detectors in place and the water heater properly strapped by the time of appraisal inspection. If the required detectors and water-heater straps are not in place prior to the appraisal inspection, the seller agrees to credit the buyer for the necessary appraisal re-inspection fee.”

    We highly recommend this both because it works and because it prevents a lot of unnecessary stress.

    Photos Of Detectors By Agents Are Risky

    When appraisers note the lack of detectors, agents often want to just send us photos they take themselves after the detectors are installed. This is risky for our appraisers though because they are certifying that the detectors were present when they inspected. By using agent photos, we are effectively asking our appraisers to lie.

    Keeping Extra Detectors In Car

    A lot of agents keep a supply of cheap detectors in their vehicles so they can quickly install them if there are any missing when the appraiser shows up. Needless to say, we think this is a great practice.

    California Requirements

    In California, every home must have one CO detector on every level, and there should be a smoke detector in each bedroom, a smoke detector in the hall outside the bedroom, and at least one smoke detector on each level.

    Texas Requirements

    Texas appraisers are not required to note the presence of detectors … so far. But there is a Health & Safety Code that requires detectors in Texas. Austin has an additional CO Detector Ordinance that went into place in 2018, but few appraisers make note of it.

    So for now the “re-inspection” issue is mostly isolated in California, but we still highly recommend detectors for the health and safety reasons mentioned above.

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    Jay Voorhees
    Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
    (855) 855-4491 | DRE# 1197176, NMLS# 310167

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