VREB Speaking * Schaefer's comment on smoke detectors

Property Manager with Gibson Management Group, Ltd.

In his "message from the Chair"...Schaefer Ogelsby mentions that at the VAR Property Managers Coalition in Natural Bridge last October, he realized that many VA property managers do not know the state laws regarding smoke detectors.....the following is the code section he references

 § 15.2-922. Smoke detectors in certain buildings.

Any locality, notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, general or special, may by ordinance require that smoke detectors be installed in the following structures or buildings: (i) any building containing one or more dwelling units, (ii) any hotel or motel regularly used or offered for, or intended to be used to provide overnight sleeping accommodations for one or more persons, and (iii) rooming houses regularly used, offered for, or intended to be used to provide overnight sleeping accommodations. Smoke detectors installed pursuant to this section shall be installed in conformance with the provisions of the Uniform Statewide Building Code. The ordinance shall allow the type of smoke detector to be either battery operated or AC powered units. Such ordinance shall require that the owner of any unit which is rented or leased, at the beginning of each tenancy and at least annually thereafter, shall furnish the tenant with a certificate that all required smoke detectors are present, have been inspected, and are in good working order. Except for smoke detectors located in hallways, stairwells, and other public or common areas of multifamily buildings, interim testing, repair, and maintenance of smoke detectors in rented or leased units shall be the responsibility of the tenant; however, the owner shall be obligated to service, repair, or replace any malfunctioning smoke detectors within five days of receipt of written notice from the tenant that such smoke detector is in need of service, repair, or replacement.

I have highlighted and underlined the sections that apparently are not being followed.  What is not mentioned is that the "certificate" can actually be wording in the lease document itself and that the "service, repair or replacement" does NOT refer to the batteries which the tenant can be tasked to replace in the lease wording. 

As an aside, at the VAR Chip Dicks' L-T update last May, the VAR staff provided Schaefer with a name tag that indicated "THE KING"....and  I told him that while I appreciate his lofty position within Virginia's real estate community, to me, THE KING is KING RICHARD PETTY * 7 time NASCAR champion #43....those of us over 50 or who have grand kids who love the movie CARS * we all laughed.

I also note that the 3 RE practice "tracks" for CE * Residential, Commercial and Property Management * will be terminated.  This idea never really got support from the state's property management and commercial specialists.  There were never sufficient CE classes or professional organization education courses that could be approved through the VREB process to entice commercial or property management agents to select those tracks and risk not having sufficient CE hours when their licenses were set to expire.  I found it was easier and much more interesting to drive to Richmond to Mosley-Flint courses with out-of-area Realtors whose perspectives and experiences were different and educational.  


Posted by

Wallace S. Gibson is a Certified Property Manager with over 50 years of property management experience and expertise.  She maintains a specialized property management business in Central Virginia serving Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna and Louisa counties  


View our available Charlottesville, Albemarle and Lake Monticello rental homes online with photos and floor plans

"...to be a Virginian, either by Birth, Marriage, Adoption, or even on one's Mother's side, is an Introduction to any State in the Union, a Passport to any Foreign Country, and a Benediction from the Almighty God...." Anonymous


Comments (3)

Denise Allen
Resh Realty Group - Chesapeake, VA
Realtor@ Chesapeake, Hampton Roads
I don't do property management but I don't ever remember any I know getting a certificate or or it being in the lease.  Interesting.
Jan 23, 2008 08:03 AM
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

I've never seen it as a "certificate" either.  I have the fact that the smoke detector(s) are operational in my Resident Handbook which is a part of my lease by reference and have never had it questioned.

I don't use the VAR lease and my lease format is common law not VRLTA so I don't know how this is handled through VAR documents/forms.



Jan 23, 2008 12:24 PM
Phil Victor
Top Tier Properties - Richmond, VA
Richmond, Virginia Homes, Real Estate & Property Management

I know Shaefer, am familiar with his article about smoke detectors and have kept up with VRLTA law changes very cloesely for the past 10 years... 

My apartment complex has used a smoke detector "certificate" for 5-6 years...  All this means is you write up a notice or "certificate" that says that the smoke detector has been inspected on X date and have found it in working order (the smoke alarm work and the battery is installed and plugged in).  You then pass this "certificate" onto the tenant when they move in, getting the tenant to acknowledge the fact that the smoke detector(s) is indeed functional at the time of move-in.  It makes sense to have them sign this "certificate" and return it to you with the statutory 5-day move-in report.  Think of it as preventative maintenance. 

I strongly recommend for any landlord to use the new tamper-proof, litium ion powered smoke detectors that have a 10-year battery life.  Target has them for $19.95 and if you need a bunch of them, Home Depot will do a price match....  Remember, you still have to periodically inspect them to make sure they are still working.

Feb 01, 2008 10:47 AM