A law has been in effect since 2009, called HB402, ensures that landlords cannot be forced to provide carbon monoxide detectors for any rental units they own by county or city officials. The law states that owners aren’t required to put CO detectors in a property if it was built before 2004.

Where the Responsibility Should Lie

There are proponents who still back the law that has been in effect for almost a decade. Many others believe it’s time for the law to be replaced. Both sides understand the seriousness of carbon monoxide poisoning, but they disagree on who should be responsible for providing the CO detector.

Proponents of the law say that the responsibility should fall on the tenants. Even if a landlord provides a CO detector, the tenants could disable it just like with smoke detectors. The other side says the person who owns the building should ensure its safety.

While this topic doesn’t affect property insurance in Salt Lake City and throughout Utah the same way as smoke detectors because of the danger of fire, it can lead to lawsuits when someone is injured or even dies because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Understanding the Risk of CO Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless liquid that is released when gas is being burned. It can come from gas furnaces or gas water heaters if there’s a leak in the systems. You don’t see it and you seldom ever smell it. However, in some situations, you may notice the smell of rotten egg, which can be an indication of a gas leak. You don’t want to rely on that smell though to tell you of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Many people don’t realize there’s anything wrong with them until they pass out. They may feel lethargic and tired. This feeling can last for a few hours or even days until the concentration of CO is strong enough to cause you to pass out. If a window is open or other ventilation, you may not pass out. However, in a closed room, the carbon monoxide will get to you.

If a person doesn’t get away from the poison, they can die. The carbon monoxide detectors are designed to detect the presence of CO and to warn the household of the dangers. If the device goes off, the person should get away from the area and call a professional to come in and check for a leak. The leak needs to be fixed before the house is safe for occupancy again.

The conflict over the law is in determining who should be responsible for the safety of the residents. The person who is responsible can be sued if someone should become sick or die from exposure to carbon monoxide. The bottom line is anyone who lives in a home with gas heat or other gas appliances should be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide and take steps to protect themselves and their family.