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Smoke detectors are required by state law and may also be mandated by local ordinances. For information on whether your community has adopted such ordinances, consult your local building, fire, or housing codes. The landlord must install at least one smoke detector outside of each bedroom. If the same corridor serves several bedrooms, one smoke detector may be installed in the corridor in the immediate vicinity of those bedrooms. In an efficiency apartment where the same room is used for dining, living, and sleeping purposes, the smoke detector must be located inside rather than outside the room. If there is a bedroom above the living or cooking area, the detector must be placed on the ceiling above the top of the stairway.

Smoke detectors should be installed on a ceiling or a wall. Smoke detectors installed on a ceiling should not be closer than 6 inches to a wall. Smoke detectors installed on a wall should be between 6 inches and 12 inches from the ceiling. If a smoke detector in your house or apartment is not properly installed, you should request that the landlord reinstall it by giving the landlord a written notice. It is a good idea to keep a copy of the notice.

Landlord's Duty to Inspect and Repair The landlord has the duty to inspect and test the smoke detector at the beginning of your tenancy (or at the time of installation). After you have moved in, the landlord's duty applies only if you give the landlord notice of a malfunction or make a request to the landlord for inspection or repair. The notice need not be in writing, unless the landlord and tenant have agreed in the lease that such notice must be in writing (however, it is always better to give notices in writing and keep a copy). The landlord has a reasonable time to inspect and repair the smoke detector, considering the availability of materials, labor, and utilities. A landlord has no duty to inspect or repair a smoke detector that has been damaged by you or your family or guests, unless you pay in advance for the reasonable costs of the repair or replacement. The landlord also has no duty to provide replacement batteries for a battery-operated smoke detector, as long as it was operating when you moved in.

Procedure and Remedies for Smoke Detector Problems If you ask your landlord to install or repair a smoke detector in your apartment and she improperly fails to do so within a reasonable period of time, you should give your landlord another written notice stating that if she fails to comply with your request within seven days, you may exercise the remedies provided in the Texas Property Code. If the landlord improperly fails to install or repair a smoke detector within seven days of your request, you may then bring court proceedings against the landlord or you may terminate the lease without court proceedings. See "Warning."

To succeed in court, you must be current on all rent due to the landlord from the time you gave her the first notice. If you or your family or


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