New York Carbon Monoxide Law
Frequently Asked Questions on NYC's New Carbon Monoxide Law
What is carbon monoxide (CO)?
CO is a highly toxic gas. It is the product of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, gasoline, wood and coal. The major sources of CO in homes and apartments are fossil fuel burning boilers, furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and parking garages. CO is very dangerous because it is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating. CO poisoning can be fatal. The warning signs of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness, tiredness and nausea. If you feel that you are suffering from the effects of CO poisoning or that your home may have a CO leak immediately open all of the windows and remove yourself from your home and call the Fire Department.
What are building owners' responsibilities under New York City's new law on carbon monoxide detectors?
- Provide and install at least one approved carbon monoxide alarm within each dwelling unit. The carbon monoxide alarms must be installed within fifteen feet of the primary entrance to each sleeping room. This applies to all multiple dwellings and one- and two-family homes.
- File (in person or by mail) a "Certificate of Satisfactory Installation" within 10 days from the date of installation, with HPD's Borough Code Enforcement office in the borough in which the dwelling is located. This applies to all multiple dwellings.
- Post a notice in a form approved by HPD in a common area informing occupants of Local Law # 7 requirements. This applies to class "A" multiple dwellings. "A" units are dwellings used, as a rule, for permanent residences. The typical residential apartment is an "A" unit.
- Provide a notice in a form approved by HPD informing occupants of Local Law # 7 requirements. This applies to non-owner occupied units in private one- and two-family homes.
- Provide written information regarding the testing and maintenance of carbon monoxide alarms, including general information concerning carbon monoxide poisoning and what to do if a carbon monoxide alarm goes off, to at least one adult occupant of each dwelling unit. This applies to class "A" multiple dwellings and non-owner occupied units in one- and two-family homes.
- Keep all records relating to the installation and maintenance of carbon monoxide alarms and make them available upon request to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the Department of Buildings (DOB), the Fire Department and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Records for all multiple dwellings must be kept on the premises unless HPD grants permission to keep them elsewhere; records for non-owner occupied units in private dwellings may be kept by the owner.
- Keep and maintain the carbon monoxide alarms or systems in good repair. This applies to class "B" multiple dwellings. "B" units are dwellings used, as a rule, on a temporary basis. For example, single room occupancies are typically B units.
- Some units in buildings without fossil fuel burning furnaces or boilers may be exempt (see Department of Buildings regulations on http://home.nyc.gov/html/dob/home.html for more info). CO detectors are also required in dormitories, nursing homes, and schools.
What are tenants' responsibilities under New York City's new law on carbon monoxide detectors?
- Reimburse the building owner $25.00 for each carbon monoxide alarm that is newly installed or installed as a result of the occupant's failure to maintain the carbon monoxide alarm or where the carbon monoxide alarm has been lost or damaged by the occupant.
- Keep and maintain the carbon monoxide alarm in good repair.
When must the detectors be installed?
All detectors must be installed by November 1, 2004. Under limited circumstances, the Department of Buildings' borough offices may grant time extensions until June 30, 2005. Extensions will be considered on a case by case basis. Visit http://home.nyc.gov/html/dob/home.html for more information about the extension process.
What types of CO detectors are required?
Approved CO detectors must be marked "UL." For existing buildings, CO detectors can be battery-operated, or can plug into an electrical outlet as long as it has a battery back-up in case of power interruption. New buildings or substantially improved buildings must have detectors that are hard-wired to the building's electrical systems. The installation of a combination smoke alarm/CO detector is allowed.
Where should the CO detectors be installed?
CO detectors must be installed within 15 feet of the primary entrance of each bedroom. They can be installed at other room locations and at heights recommended by the manufacturer. CO detectors do not have to be installed on or near the ceiling. To ensure proper operation, do not install CO detectors next to bathrooms, which are sources of humidity, or near gas stoves, gas dryers, etc. Detectors should not be placed in areas where they are likely to be damaged by children or pets.
What forms must building owners submit to HPD? Where do building owners get the forms? When do building owners have to submit them?
Owners must file (in person or by mail) a Certificate of Installation with the HPD Code Enforcement borough office within 10 days of installation. Owners may either download the Certificate of Installation or pick one up at any of HPD's Code Enforcement borough offices.
If a tenant wants to install his/her own detector, can the owner allow that, or does the owner have to install it?
Local Law # 7 requires the owner of the dwelling to provide and install at least one approved and operational CO alarm. If building owners and tenants are in agreement in allowing the tenant to install the CO alarm, it is strongly suggested that the owner be provided access to confirm that an approved CO alarm is properly installed and operational. It is the owner of the multiple dwelling that must file (in person or by mail) the certificate of installation with HPD.
If you own your apartment, are you responsible for installing the detector?
For owner-occupied coops and condos, the board and the shareholders must make this decision.
If a building owner has a vacant apartment with no tenant expected to move in, must the owner install a detector in the vacant apartment? Or, must the owner only install the detector immediately before the new tenant moves in?
Owners are required to install CO detectors in each dwelling unit. Nothing in the law limits installation to occupied units.
Can a building owner be reimbursed for the cost of a carbon monoxide detector?
When a building owner installs a detector in a rental apartment, the law requires the tenant to reimburse the owner for $25 within one year.
Is a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector permitted?
If a building owner installs a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector, can the owner get a $35 reimbursement from the tenant ($10 for smoke detector plus $25 for carbon monoxide detector?)
Owners who install a combined smoke and carbon monoxide alarm are entitled to be reimbursed a maximum of $35.00 only when the smoke alarm needs to be replaced i.e. it is missing or inoperable. If the smoke alarm is operable and the building owner still wants to replace it with a combined alarm, he or she can only be reimbursed $25.00.
Who is responsible for maintaining the carbon monoxide detectors?
While the law places responsibility for maintaining the detectors with the tenant, it requires building owners to replace any detectors that are lost, stolen or become inoperable. The owner has to "replace within 30 calendar days after the receipt of written notice any such device which becomes inoperable within one year of the installation of such device due to a defect in the manufacture of such device and through no fault of the occupant of the dwelling unit." (27-2046.1b(4)). The building owner does not get another $25 reimbursement for this kind of replacement. Presumably, the alarm is covered by manufacturer warranty for that long.
What are some tips for maintaining carbon monoxide detectors?
- Test all carbon monoxide detectors at least once a month (all alarms have test buttons).
- Replace batteries twice a year, in the spring and in the fall when clocks are changed for daylight savings time.
- An audible trouble signal will sound warning that the battery is low. Replace the battery immediately.
- Never paint over carbon monoxide detectors.
- Replace carbon monoxide detectors as recommended by the manufacturer. Aged CO detectors may fail to sound in the presence of carbon monoxide gas.
How will HPD enforce the carbon monoxide rules?
HPD will issue violations for failure to install carbon monoxide detectors and for failure to provide proper notification and certification of installation in accordance with the law.
What are the penalties if an owner does not install a CO detector?
Failure to provide or maintain a CO detector is a class B violation. Civil penalties can range from $25 to $100 and $10 per day for each violation until the violation is certified as corrected. In addition, failure to provide proper notices to occupants or certification of installation is a class A violation which can carry civil penalties of up to $50.
What are some heating season tips that owners should follow?
- While a CO detector may help to alert you to the presence of elevated CO levels, it is important to make sure that plumbing, heating and other gas powered equipment in your home is properly maintained and serviced regularly by a licensed professional.
- Keep chimneys clean and maintain chimney flues.
- Do not attempt to heat your home with the oven. Burning gas in a closed house or apartment uses up oxygen and produces deadly carbon monoxide gases.
- Never keep your car idling in the garage and never turn on gas-powered equipment, such as snow blowers, chainsaws or generators inside your home and garage.
- Kerosene heaters are dangerous and illegal in New York City. If you use electric heaters make sure that they are U.L. rated, and kept away from any combustible materials such as draperies and linens. Unplug electric blankets and portable electric heaters when not in use.
- Make sure you have a working smoke detector in every bedroom and on every level. Check and change the batteries often.
- You can check if a repair company has a plumber's or oil burner installer's license online by using the Building Information System at http://home.nyc.gov/html/dob/home.html
Where can tenants and building owners get more information?
Tenants and building owners may call 311 or visit HPD's website at www.nyc.gov/hpd.