Effective August 1st 2008, all existing single family dwellings are affected by a new Minnesota real estate law that requires “an approved and operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within ten feet of each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes.” (See MN Stat. 299.51). I am realizing that many agents have not heard about this law, so I surmise that many homesellers and homebuyers haven’t either. I haven’t seen them in most of the homes I have been touring with buyers.
This law has been effective since August 1, 2007 for all newly constructed homes. The law will also become effective for all units in multifamily dwellings on August 1, 2008. The law allows for hard-wired, plugged-in, or battery operated units as long as they are attached to the wall. These devices must conform to UL2034 standards.
Undoubtedly, some sellers will believe that disclosing the lack of alarms in-lieu of installing them would be legally sufficient. If you disclose a problem or hazard, and a buyer of adult age and sound mind is willing to buy the property anyway, what’s the problem? This approach would make sense to most of us. However, lawsuit-happy folks and their scheming attorneys don’t believe in common sense, and the concept of “personal responsibility” is only a vague and esoteric abstraction for them. You can also bet that if someone becomes ill or dies in a home without proper alarms, the lawsuit will name every possible involved party that might have a pocket book. You can bet your booty that the listing agent and the buyer’s agent will be named in the lawsuit. The law does not spell out what the damages should be, but you can also bet that awarded damages will be astronomical.
It’s a good idea to protect your family with these devices, anyway. If you are a seller, your agent should insist that you have properly installed carbon monoxide devices prior to listing the property. If you are a buyer, you should insist that properly-installed alarms are in place prior to closing.