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Smoke Detector, Carbon Monoxide and Fire Extinguisher Certificates

Nov 1, 2021 | Written by: Lori K. MacWilliam, Esq. |

There are many steps a potential home seller or landlord must take in preparing for a sale or a lease. 

In New Jersey, state law (NJ Admin. Code § 5:70-2.3) requires that the seller or landlord of a residential property obtain a certificate verifying that the property has complied with the following requirements: (1) that the property has working smoke detectors; (2) that the property has properly operating carbon monoxide detectors; and (3) that the property has fire extinguishers available, all installed in accordance with state and municipal ordinances.  While most homeowners and landlords may be aware of these general regulations, many are not aware of the specific requirements that must be followed.

Homeowners and landlords should be aware that simply ensuring that their current smoke detectors have fully charged batteries may not satisfy the current law.  On January 1, 2019, New Jersey’s Uniform Construction Code changed to require residences built before 1977 to have a ten-year sealed battery smoke alarm installed.  Houses built after 1977 were already required to have such models installed. There are other criteria that may not be known generally, such as the requirement that the smoke detectors be installed at least three feet away from any air registers, or that the smoke detectors not be more than ten years old.

Municipalities have the ability to pass stricter carbon monoxide regulations than the State code.  Some municipalities in New Jersey require that each floor has a carbon monoxide alarm, whereas the state only requires that they be installed in the vicinity of sleeping quarters.

Even fire extinguisher regulations may surprise you. The extinguisher must 1) be labeled, charged and operable; 2) be installed within 10 feet of the kitchen and located in the path of egress, or near the way out; 3) be readily accessible and visible (not in a cabinet or closet); 4) mounted using the manufacturer’s hanging bracket so that the operating instructions are clearly visible; 5) not weigh more than 10 pounds; 6) have a minimum rating of 2A-10B:C; and 7) not be mounted more than five feet from the floor.

For these reasons, owners of residential properties who are planning on selling or leasing such units should find out the exact requirements that apply in their municipalities.  They should contact their municipal official and ask for a list of the criteria that must be followed.  These criteria are usually printed on the application for the certificate.  Owners should review and adhere to these regulations in advance of the actual inspection.  They should also schedule the inspection several weeks prior to the sale or commencement of the rental to avoid delays, in case one of the regulations is missed.  If the residence fails the initial inspection, time must allow for the problem to be corrected and for a new inspection to be scheduled.  As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


Lori K. MacWilliam, Esq. focuses her law practice on real estate, estate planning & administration, and general corporate matters. Please feel free to contact her at 908-735-5161 or via email.

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Any statements made herein are solely for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.