Little Enforcement For Renters Without Smoke Alarms 7/16/13
It started with a Facebook question, "do you have smoke alarms in your rental?"
Dozens of responses later, I caught up with one family who is renting without a smoke alarm.
Like many homes on 7th street in Odessa, these are rental units. One of the people who lives there let us know they don't have smoke alarms.
"I honestly didn’t know they were something we had to have,” said Baldemar Ortiz, who lives in a rental home without a smoke alarm.
Dozens of other basin residents posted on our Facebook page to let us know they are without alarms.
We knocked on the home across the street, owned by the same landlord; residents say they don't have alarms either. The landlord says he didn't know it was required by law, but thought all units had one alarm.
"Some people take them off, use the batteries, I don’t know what happens to them. I check them every month,” said Property Owner Al Pando. “If they don’t want one, that’s their deal.”
Apartments in Odessa are required to have smoke alarms and logs by a city ordinance and face fines as high as 5-hundred dollars if they don't comply. But rental homes and duplexes only require alarms under state law--so unless you take legal action, there's no one to enforce the rules.
"It is the property owners responsibility to provide a safe environment,” said City of Odessa Fire Marshal Detra White. “They must take that seriously or they could face serious civil issues."
In light of recent, deadly home fires in and around Odessa, fire safety and smoke alarms could save your life.
"These smoke alarms have to be maintained and you have to have an escape plan and know what you’re going to do in the event of a fire,” said White.
Midland also has a similar ordinance for multi-family dwellings. Odessa is considering expanding its ordinance to include homes but officials say it would be hard to enforce.