In addition to other requirements, landlords in North Carolina must make sure they are in compliance with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in the premises.

Smoke detectors:

Provide operable smoke alarms, either battery-operated or electrical, having an Underwriters’ Laboratories, Inc., listing or other equivalent national testing laboratory approval. Smoke alarms must be installed in accordance with either the standards of the National Fire Protection Association or the minimum protection designated in the manufacturer’s instructions. Landlord must replace or repair the smoke alarm within 15 days of receipt of a written notification by tenant that the alarm needs to be replaced or repaired. The landlord is responsible for installing new batteries in a battery-operated smoke alarm at the beginning of the tenancy (tenant replaces the batteries as needed during the tenancy). After December 31, 2012, when installing a new smoke alarm or replacing an existing smoke alarm, the landlord is required to install a tamper-resistant, 10-year lithium battery smoke alarm. There are some exceptions to this requirement:

  • the premises is equipped with a hardwired smoke alarm with a battery backup; or
  • the premises is equipped with a smoke alarm combined with a carbon monoxide alarm that both complies with ANSI/UL2034 or ANSI/UL2075 for carbon monoxide alarms and ANSI/UL217 for smoke alarms, and emits an alarm in a manner that clearly differentiates between detecting the presence of carbon monoxide and the presence of smoke.

Carbon monoxide alarms

Provide a minimum of one operable carbon monoxide alarm per rental unit per level, either battery-operated or electrical. Alarm must be listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory that is OSHA-approved to test and certify to American National Standards Institute/Underwriters Laboratories Standards ANSI/UL2034 or ANSI/UL2075, and must be installed in accordance with either the standards of the National Fire Protection Association or the minimum protection designated in the manufacturer’s instructions. The landlord must ensure that a carbon monoxide alarm is operable and in good repair at the beginning of each tenancy, and new batteries must be installed at the beginning of a tenancy (tenant replaces batteries as needed during tenancy). The landlord can provide a combined carbon monoxide alarm/smoke alarm as long as the device does both of the following:

  • Complies with ANSI/UL2034 or ANSI/UL2075 for carbon monoxide alarms and ANSI/UL217 for smoke alarms; and
  • emits an alarm in a manner that clearly differentiates between detecting the presence of carbon monoxide and the presence of smoke.

Fines related to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

The landlord is required to supply both a working smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm. If the landlord fails to provide, install, replace, or repair a smoke alarm or a carbon monoxide alarm within 30 days of having received a written notice from the tenant or any agent of the State or local government of the landlord’s failure to do so, the landlord will be subject to a fine of up to $250.00 for each violation. In addition, after December 31, 2012, if the landlord installs a new smoke alarm or replaces an existing smoke alarm, the smoke alarm must be a tamper-resistant, 10-year lithium battery smoke alarm. Any exceptions and the full text of the statute can be found by reading N.C.G.S.A. § 42-42(a)(5a).