Everyone wants to feel safe in their rental and it is your duty as a landlord to maintain certain security equipment to protect life and property. Window and door locks, smoke alarms, and fire extinguishers are three key safety equipment categories that we’ll look into here.
Aside from simply supplying working locks on all doors and windows, a landlord in Texas must make sure they are in compliance with certain height requirements in the case of sliding doors and dead bolt locks. For sliding doors, it depends on if the pin lock or security bar was installed before or after September 1, 1993. If before, the height requirement for the pin lock or security bar is not higher than 54 inches from the floor; if after that date, the height should be no more than 48 inches from the floor. Similarly, a keyed dead bolt or a keyless bolting device must be installed no lower than 36 inches from the floor and no higher than 54 inches from the floor if before September 1, 1993, and 48 inches from the floor if after that date. In addition, the dead bolt must have a throw of not less than one inch.
Texas Property Code § 92.255 outlines the requirements for smoke alarms - how many are required, where they must be placed, but in general they must be installed in every bedroom in the unit and at least one on every level if it’s a multiple level dwelling. In addition, if a unit was operated as a residence prior to September 1, 2011 then any smoke alarms in that unit may be powered by battery and is not required to be interconnected with other smoke alarms in the unit.
Of course, the landlord has a duty in Texas to inspect the smoke alarms in the unit and ensure that they are in working condition prior to the start of the lease. If the tenant asks for an inspection of any smoke alarms the landlord is legally obligated to perform the inspection, either with smoke, by the testing button on the smoke alarm, or by following other recommended test procedures of the manufacturer. And if a tenant or tenant’s guests damage or destroy the smoke alarm the landlord must fix or replace it at the tenant’s expense. Finally, for battery operated smoke alarms the landlord does not have to supply batteries as long as the smoke alarm was in working condition at the beginning of the lease term.
You will need to check your local ordinances to determine if you need to supply a fire extinguisher in your unit, but if you do, Texas requires you to inspect the fire extinguisher. Specifically, if a landlord has installed a 1A10BC residential fire extinguisher (check with the National Fire Protection Association) or other non-rechargeable fire extinguisher, the landlord must inspect the fire extinguisher at the beginning of the tenant’s possession . At a minimum, an inspection under this section must include: checking to ensure the fire extinguisher is present and checking to ensure the fire extinguisher gauge or pressure indicator indicates the correct pressure as recommended by the manufacturer of the fire extinguisher. As long as the fire extinguisher was in working order at the beginning of the lease term it is presumed to be functioning properly unless otherwise notified by the tenant or if the landlord receives a written request from the tenant for an inspection. If the landlord receives a written request for inspection then they are obligated to perform the inspection within a reasonable amount of time. Of course, if the tenant or any occupants or their guests destroy or damage the fire extinguisher the tenant must pay in advance for the repair or replacement of the fire extinguisher.