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Long Live The Smoke Detector

A new state law went into effect on April 1 that requires that any smoke detector sold must either be hard-wired or, if it’s battery powered, must employ a non-removable battery that powers the device for a minimum of 10 years. Co-op and condo boards need to be aware that non-compliant devices must be upgraded before the sale or lease of all real estate in New York State.

“Changing the batteries in a smoke detector is often tedious and overlooked,” says attorney Jeffrey Reich, a partner at Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. “Many co-op and condo boards pass the responsibility for carbon-dioxide and smoke detectors on to the apartment owners. If boards want to ensure compliance with this new law, they could order smoke detectors with 10-year batteries for every unit. Then, like a toilet repair, they could charge the shareholder or unit-owner. Or the management company could buy smoke detectors in bulk and save a lot of money.

To ensure compliance with the new law – New York General Business Law, Section 399-ccc – Reich’s firm is encouraging its co-op and condo clients to require anyone seeking to sell or rent an apartment to sign an acknowledgment that the smoke detector satisfies the new requirement.

“It should be part of the closing package, like the window-guard affidavit,” he advises. “It can be a simple one-page document saying the apartment is equipped with a smoke detector that’s either hard-wired or powered by a battery that lasts at least 10 years.”

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