Smoke Detector Requirements in Maryland

If you live in Maryland, are your smoke detectors up-to-date, or do they break the law?

On January 1, 2018, a new smoke detector law was enacted in Maryland. Most people aren’t aware of it until they go to buy or sell a house. How you can tell if your smoke detectors are in compliance with the law or whether they need to be replaced?

Maryland Smoke Alarm Requirements
Smoke Detector Requirements

Maryland Smoke Detector Requirements

Hard-Wired Smoke Detectors

Do you have any hard-wired smoke detectors in your house? Hard-wired smoke detectors must be less than 10 years old (that is, 10 years from the date of manufacture. The manufacture date will either be marked on the packaging or on the smoke detector itself) and have a hush button. The hush button is that button you push to silence it when it activates accidentally, like when you’re grilling outside and the smoke comes into your house and it activates.

Battery Operated Smoke Detectors

Do you have any smoke detectors in your house that aren’t hard-wired? The kind of smoke detectors that have replaceable batteries? They are now against the law. For years we were advised to change the batteries every spring and every fall. If you still do that, your smoke detectors break the law. Those outdated smoke detectors need to be replaced with 10 year smoke alarms. These new smoke detectors are sealed smoke detectors that are tamper- resistant units with a hush button. The battery in these units is not able to be removed.

Smoke Alarm Replacement

What happens if you have both types of smoke detectors in the same house in Maryland? Hard-wired smoke detectors can only be replaced with new hard-wired smoke detectors. You cannot swap them out for the ones that are battery-powered. Battery-powered smoke detectors can be swapped out with new sealed battery smoke detectors that are designed to last 10 years. It’s okay to have both types as long as they are less than 10 years old and have a hush button.

Where to Install Smoke Detectors

Where should smoke detectors be located according to the Maryland smoke alarm law? You need one on each level of your house, including the basement. If your house was built before July 1, 2013… one smoke detector must be installed in the hallway outside the bedrooms. If your house was built after July 1, 2013…there must be a smoke detector in every bedroom and also in every hallway outside the bedrooms.

Maryland Smoke Detector Code When Selling a House

Homeowners who plan to sell a house in Maryland should be prepared to comply with the smoke detector 10 year battery law before putting their house on the market.

Maryland listing agreements state:

Seller is hereby notified of changes in Maryland law regarding smoke alarms and smoke detectors (Section 9-101 et seq. of the Public Safety Article, Annotated Code of Maryland). The type of smoke alarm required in a dwelling depends upon the age of the property. As of January 1, 2018, among other changes, no alarm – battery powered or hare-wired–may be older than 10 years from the date of manufacture, and if battery powered, be sealed, tamper resistant units incorporating a silence/hush button, which use long-life batteries. There are penalties for non-compliance. Additionally, some jurisdictions have more stringent rules for new construction or for rentals. Seller is advised to verify compliance with the city or county in which the property is located.

Furthermore, home sellers must acknowledge, in writing, that they understand the the provisions of the above paragraph.

Additionally, home sellers in Maryland complete a disclosure form before putting their house up for sale. The questions on this form include:

  • Will the smoke alarms provide an alarm in the event of power outage?
  • Are the smoke alarms over 10 years old?
  • If the smoke alarms are battery operated, are they sealed, tamper resistant units incorporating a silence/hush button, which use long-life batteries as required in all Maryland Homes by 2018?

If you are thinking about buying a house in Maryland, a home inspector will check the smoke detectors as part of their home inspection. Unless you are buying a house “as is”, you will have the opportunity to request any outdated smoke detectors be replaced by the seller (at the seller’s expense) so they comply with the smoke detector law in Maryland. If you are using a USDA, VA or FHA loan to buy a house, the appraiser my check whether the smoke detectors are in compliance with the current law. If the appraiser does check and they aren’t up to current code, it will be noted as a lender-required repair. This means the seller must have them changed so they do comply with the law. Otherwise, your loan won’t be approved. If you are using a conventional loan to buy a house, an appraiser won’t be required to make note of the smoke detectors and they will not become a lender-required repair. However, it is in a seller’s best interest to ensure the smoke detector’s in their house are in compliance with the Maryland smoke detector law that was enacted in January 2018.

For more information regarding the law…be sure to check out this link: Maryland Smoke Alarm Law.

About the Author:

Melissa Spittel is a Manchester real estate expert who serves Carroll County and the surrounding counties in Maryland. Her creative strategies help home owners sell their house as quickly as possible and for the most money. She also has proven success in selling houses that other real estate agents weren’t able to sell. Melissa guides home buyers through the process step-by-step, removing a lot of the typical stress and frustration so many buyers experience. Her experience working with out-of-state buyers and sellers makes her a great relocation REALTOR®, and she is part of Coldwell Banker’s Relocation Team. Do you need a real estate expert in another part of Maryland or in another state? Melissa can easily connect you with a REALTOR® from her wide network of real estate pros.

Have Questions? Need Advice?Ask Melissa Spittel, the Local Real Estate Expert!