Renting In Maine: Smoke Detectors Vs Fire Alarm Monitoring

Construction & Contractors Articles

If you have recently moved to Maine from another state and are currently renting an apartment or house, you may be wondering what the requirements are for fire alarms and alarm monitoring systems. Maine does require working fire alarms in all rental units, but you may be surprised to learn that those alarms do not need to be connected to a fire station or a fire monitoring system. Here's what you need to know about fire alarm regulations in the state of Maine.

Required Smoke Detectors

For the purposes of Maine regulations, a smoke detector is defined as a device that produces an alarm suitable to warn occupants when the device detects the presence of smoke. The detector must be approved by a nationally recognized independent testing laboratory. The designation UL or FM verifies the detector meets national safety standards and can typically be found on either the front or back of the unit. In some cases, the designation may be printed or a small label that can be removed. If you cannot find the safety designation on your unit, check with the manufacturer or ask your landlord for the product information.

How Many Smoke Detectors Are Needed?

According to the Maine Housing Authority, your landlord must provide a working smoke detector on each level of the unit, not including crawl spaces and attics. The detectors must be installed within 15 feet of sleeping areas. Residences built after October 31, 2009 must have a smoke detector located in each bedroom, says the Maine Housing Authority.

Is Your Landlord Required to Provide Special Detectors for the Disabled?

If someone in your family is hard-of-hearing or deaf, your landlord must provide a suitable smoke detector to alert them in the event of a fire. If your landlord does not provide an adequate detector, you can install one yourself and deduct the cost of the alarm and the installation from your rent. Your landlord cannot evict you for deducting the cost of the fire detector from your rent.

Who is Responsible for Maintaining the Smoke Detectors?

You landlord is required to provide you with a working smoke detector, but you are responsible for changing the batteries when they are needed and testing the unit to make sure it is in working order. If your smoke detector stops working, notify your landlord right away to replace it. Your landlord may replace it himself or authorize you to replace it with a similar model and deduct the cost from your rent. Your landlord is not responsible for injuries or property damage that occur if you fail to replace batteries or fail to notify him that the detector is not working properly.

Can You Install or Hire a Fire Monitoring Service?

If you would feel more comfortable with a monitored system, such as one from Fyr Fyter Inc, that notifies the fire department and other emergency personnel when a fire is suspected, talk to your landlord. Although he is not obligated to provide fire monitoring services, your landlord may agree to allow you to install a system at your expense. If you choose this route, make sure you get the agreement in writing and that both of you understand the terms of your agreement. 

The bottom line is, your landlord is required to provide you with working smoke detectors according to the regulations of the state of Maine. If you have concerns about the type of smoke detector provided, its location or its effectiveness, talk to your landlord about your concerns. If you suspect that the smoke detectors in your rental unit do not meet state standards and your landlord is not willing to replace them, check with your local fire marshal to be sure. Some fire departments will provide free or low-cost smoke detectors to those in need.

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8 March 2017

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