Are Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Required in Virginia?

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Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are lifesavers. Together, they prevent thousands of deaths every year. That’s why many states, including Virginia, make them part of their residential code requirements. What are the specifics of Virginia law? Here’s what you need to know.

Current Law

Since 2018, Virginia has required smoke alarms in homes. Virginia code 15.2-922 states that any Virginia locality can require smoke alarms in the following places:

• Any building containing one or more dwelling units
• Hotels and motels
• Rooming houses

The law also says that they must be installed according to the Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC).

Are Carbon Monoxide Detectors Required in Loudoun County?

The county follows the International Residential Code (IRC), which says carbon monoxide alarms “should be installed in any dwelling in which fuel-fired appliances are installed or have attached garages with an opening into the home.”

Day Cares and Schools

In 2021, the Virginia senate passed a law requiring schools and daycare centers in the state to have at least one carbon monoxide detector. The bill was signed into law by former Governor Ralph Northam. The law followed a highly publicized incident at a daycare center in Virginia Beach. Children and students at the daycare became sick after being exposed to carbon monoxide leaks.

Smoke Alarms in Rental Properties

According to Virginia law, property owners must install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all their rental units. Landlords are not required to rewire older properties or retrofit them. Virginia’s USBC allows landlords to use “AC-powered smoke detectors with battery backup or equivalent devices,” but the landlords must maintain the detectors.

Annual Inspections

Landlords must send a yearly statement to each tenant stating that the tenant’s smoke alarms:

• Are present
• Have been inspected
• Are in good working order

Tenants also have responsibilities. They must not remove or tamper with smoke detectors. If a tenant reports that a smoke detector isn’t working, the landlord must fix or replace it within five days of getting the notice.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Rental Units

The law is a little different regarding carbon monoxide detectors. A landlord only must install one if the tenant requests it. If a tenant asks for a carbon monoxide detector in writing, the landlord must comply within 90 days of getting the request.

Loudoun County’s Smoke Alarm Program

If you live in Loudoun County, you can get a free smoke alarm check from the county fire department. The check includes a test of your smoke alarms, battery checks, and safety recommendations. You can contact the Fire and Life Safety Hotline online or by calling 703-737-8093.

Protect Your Home

If you need new smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors, contact SESCOS. We can check your alarms and detectors, replace old ones, and help you stay safe.

24/Hour Emergency Electricians | 703-777-6200