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Smoke Alarms - A Landlord’s Duty

Published April 18, 2018 by Anthony Jones, II

Quote about the landlord's responsibility.Are you currently living in a rental home? If so, ask yourself this: Is my family protected if the building should suddenly catch fire? It is the duty of your property owner to assure that you are, yet many rental dwellings in Georgia lack smoke detectors, putting people at risk of an unspeakable fate.

Section 25-2-40 of the Official Code of Georgia states in relevant part, “… every dwelling and every dwelling unit within an apartment, house, condominium, and townhouse… shall have installed an approved battery-operated smoke detector which shall be maintained in good working order…”. It is not the responsibility of the tenant to install this equipment. The landlord must have functional smoke detectors within their rental dwellings from the moment a tenant occupies the property. Failure to do so not only puts lives at risk, but also leaves property owners exposed to liability if their tenants should suffer injuries as a result.

In this case: followed by the case number and an arrow pointing down.For an example of how this duty is interpreted by the Court in Georgia, take a look at this case where two tenants of a rental home lost their lives in a fire that broke out in the middle of the night. Negligence claims were premised on the owner’s alleged failure to install smoke detectors as required by O.C.G.A. § 25-2-40. The fire investigator testified that he found no operational smoke detectors, and the Appellate Court held that the decedents’ fatal injuries were caused by the owner’s failure to comply with this code. As a result, the families of the deceased men were able to recover a great deal of money from the landlord for their loss.

At The Millar Law Firm, we would prefer it if we never had to take a case like this. However, in the real world, things like this do happen. Check your home. Ask your landlord about your fire protection system. Get it repaired immediately if necessary. But if all that fails and something terrible occurs, call the Law Offices of The Millar Law Firm. We can help.

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