BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    


          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   SB 183|
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                                 THIRD READING

          Bill No:  SB 183
          Author:   Lowenthal (D)
          Amended:  5/26/09
          Vote:     21

          AYES:  Lowenthal, Ashburn, DeSaulnier, Kehoe, Oropeza,  
            Pavley, Simitian, Wolk
          NOES:  Huff, Harman, Hollingsworth

           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  4-1, 4/28/09
          AYES:  Corbett, Harman, Florez, Leno
          NOES:  Walters  
           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8

           SUBJECT  :    Residential building safety

           SOURCE  :     California Coalition for Childrens Safety and  
                      California State Firefighters Association

           DIGEST  :    This bill requires that a carbon monoxide device  
          be installed in existing dwellings intended for human  
          occupancy that have a fossil fuel burning appliance,  
          fireplace, or an attached garage, provides that the  
          exclusive remedy for failure to install a device is actual  
          damages not to exceed $100, exclusive of any court costs  
          and attorney's fees, revises the statutory Real Estate  
          Transfer Disclosure Statement to require the seller of a  


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          one-to-four residential property or manufactured home to  
          make certain disclosures regarding carbon monoxide devices,  
          smoke detectors, and water heaters, and requires the owner  
          of a rental dwelling unit to maintain carbon monoxide  
          devices in the unit. 

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law requires a transferor to deliver  
          a statutory transfer disclosure statement, and other  
          disclosures, as soon as practicable before transfer of  
          title, or close of escrow, when transferring real property,  
          except in certain cases, and manufactured homes or  
          mobilehomes, provided that the sale or lease with an option  
          to purchase involves an agent.  Under existing law, a  
          seller of a single-family dwelling must disclose to a  
          transferee that he/she has installed an operable smoke  
          detector in the home as required by law.  

          This bill revises the statutory transfer disclosure  
          statement as follows:

          1. Requires the seller to check off whether or not the  
             property has one or more carbon monoxide devices.

          2. Adds a footnote to the statement advising buyers that  
             installation of a carbon monoxide device is not a  
             precondition of sale.

          3. Requires a seller to certify, as opposed to checking off  
             as under existing law, which the property is in  
             compliance with laws requiring smoke detectors and the  
             bracing of water heaters. 

          Existing law requires that smoke detectors be installed in  
          all single-family dwellings that are sold.  Existing law  
          provides that no transfer of title is invalidated on the  
          basis of a failure to comply with this requirement and the  
          exclusive remedy for failure to comply is an award of  
          actual damages not to exceed $100, exclusive of any court  
          costs and attorney's fees.)

          Existing law provides that a transfer shall not be  
          invalidated solely because any person failed to comply with  
          the transfer disclosure requirements described above.   
          However, any person who willfully or negligently violates  


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          or fails to perform a required duty is liable in the amount  
          of actual damages suffered by a transferee.  

          This bill requires that a carbon monoxide device be  
          installed in existing dwellings intended for human  
          occupancy that have a fossil fuel burning appliance,  
          fireplace, or an attached garage beginning January 1, 2011  
          for single-family dwelling units and January 1, 2012 for  
          all other units.

          This bill provides that failure to install a carbon  
          monoxide device is an infraction.  Under the bill, an owner  
          must first be given a 30-day notice to correct the  
          violation and, if it is not corrected within that time  
          period, the owner is subject to a fine of $200 for each  

          This bill provides that the exclusive remedy for failure to  
          install a device is actual damages not to exceed $100,  
          exclusive of any court costs and attorney's fees and no  
          transfer of title shall be invalidated on the basis of a  
          failure to install a carbon monoxide device as required by  
          the bill. 

          Existing law requires an owner of rental property to  
          install a smoke detector in a dwelling unit and permits the  
          owner or his or her agent to enter a unit to install,  
          maintain, repair, or test the detector.  A tenant must  
          notify the owner of an inoperable smoke detector and the  
          owner must correct any deficiencies.  Under existing law, a  
          landlord may enter a dwelling unit only with reasonable  
          notice and during normal business hours except in cases of  
          emergency or where the tenant consents to an entry during  
          other than normal business hours at the time of the entry.   

          This bill requires a property owner to maintain carbon  
          monoxide devices in a rental dwelling unit and would  
          require that the devices be operable at the time the tenant  
          takes possession of the unit.  This bill requires a tenant  
          to notify the landlord if the tenant becomes aware that the  
          device is inoperable or deficient and would require the  
          landlord to correct the reported inoperability or  
          deficiency.  This bill provides that a landlord is not in  


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          violation if he/she has not received the notification from  
          the tenant.

          This bill provides that a landlord may enter the dwelling  
          unit for the purpose of installing, repairing, testing, and  
          maintaining carbon monoxide devices pursuant to the  
          requirements of Civil Code Section 1954.

          This bill requires the State Fire Marshall to develop a  
          process for the approval and listing of carbon monoxide  
          devices.  The process must include consideration of the  
          effectiveness and reliability of the devices, including  
          their propensity to record false alarms.

          This bill allows the State Fire Marshall to charge a fee to  
          manufacturers of carbon monoxide devices to cover the costs  
          of the approval and listing program, and prohibits the  
          marketing, distribution, and sale of carbon monoxide  
          devices that are not listed and approved by the State Fire  

          On November 27, 2007, the Senate Committee on  
          Transportation and Housing held an informational hearing  
          entitled "Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning."  The  
          purpose was to hear from experts on the dangers of carbon  
          monoxide poisoning and consider whether California should  
          require the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in  
          dwellings.  The committee staff made several findings upon  
          conclusion of the hearing, including that "[c]arbon  
          monoxide poisoning is generally preventable through better  
          education of consumers and improved maintenance of  
          combustion appliances.  When carbon monoxide does enter a  
          home, carbon monoxide devices can and do alert the  
          residents and prevent or significantly decrease the  
          severity of a poisoning." 

          According to the author's office, the 2009 International  
          Residential Code requires that carbon monoxide detectors be  
          installed in new construction dwelling units with  
          fuel-fired appliances or attached garages.  The updated  
          code also requires detectors to be installed in existing  
          homes that have fuel-fired appliances or attached garages  


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          when work requiring a building permit occurs.  The author's  
          office indicates that the Department of Housing and  
          Community Development is currently considering adopting  
          these requirements in California for newly constructed one  
          and two unit dwellings. 

          Last year, the author of this bill introduced a similar  
          bill, SB 1386 (Lowenthal).  That bill, which would have  
          required that carbon monoxide devices be installed in both  
          new construction and existing, dwelling units, was vetoed  
          by the Governor.  In order to address the concerns in the  
          Governor's veto message, this bill will apply only to  
          existing housing and not to new construction.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  Yes

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/21/09)

          California Coalition for Children's Safety and Health  
          California State Firefighters Association (co-source)
          California Alarm Association
          California Monoxide Safety and Health Association
          Home Depot
          National Fire Protection Association
          Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
          Safe Kids
          State Association of Electrical Workers
          Western Center on Law and Poverty

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The author's office writes that  
          "[c]arbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of accidental  
          poisoning deaths in the United States.  Carbon monoxide is  
          an odorless, colorless, deadly gas.  The most effective  
          safety device available to reduce injuries and fatalities  
          related to carbon monoxide poisoning is a CO alarm.  SB 183  
          (Lowenthal) will help to ensure California's families are  
          protected from carbon monoxide poisoning."  The author's  
          office further writes, "The California Air Resources Board  
          has determined that 30-40 "avoidable deaths" occur just in  
          California each year, on average, due to unintentional  
          carbon monoxide poisoning.  Additionally, there are 175-700  


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          "avoidable" emergency room visits and hospitalizations in  
          California alone."

          JJA:do  5/26/09   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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