Rental inspection by town

Maplewood Building dept called to conduct inspection on rental properties (single family houses) I own.  Over the phone, the official said the inspection should last 30 minutes, looks for carbon monoxide, smoke, fire extinguisher, "infestations".  What else do they look for / should I worry about?

Fire, health, and building code violations that are obvious are other possibilities.

joan_crystal said:

Fire, health, and building code violations that are obvious are other possibilities.

 I figure as such but wonder if there are any specific "red flags" like smoke detectors w/o batteries (I'm making this up) or somesuch

Smoke detectors without batteries (non-working) would be a fire code violation.

Another situation town will be looking at is whether two in related families are living in a one family home.

Interesting that the town called you for an inspection. I own properties in South Orange and deal with inspections periodically, but it's always when the unit is vacant before the new tenant moves in and I have to schedule it myself. Maybe your tenants have been there a long time and the town wants to check up? My inspections have always taken place every three or four years, so no huge gaps.

Two things I got pinged on recently were (1) kitchen fire extinguisher needed to be bigger and installed in a different location* and (2) the smoke detector needed to be a sealed unit with a ten-year battery. I replaced both and no further issues. But this is a one-story condo unit, so not a lot of things that could go wrong. They do look for signs of mice/bugs, unclean conditions, or peeling paint. They don't like it when work, such as painting, is still in progress (I did that once and he wasn't happy). They also don't like it if you schedule an inspection after the tenant has started moving in, even just a few things, but honestly, everybody needs to move in/out within a very short timeframe of the beginning of the month so sometimes you just can't help it. But apologize profusely, acknowledge that you have sinned, and promise you will never do it again. (This won't apply if they're inspecting an occupied unit.)

All stairs must have railings. I was dinged for a missing screen on a window and a torn screen on a screen door. In my two-family house, I had to install a door closer on a door from a bedroom into a central hallway (not the main entry/exit door to the outside).  I also had to install a carbon monoxide detector by the boiler. (Sorry for rambling, but I'm mentally going through ten years of past inspections.)

*The issue with the location of the fire extinguisher was that it must not be installed so that an occupant has to reach over a counter to take it down. That's where I had it previously and it was okay. Under the new code, I had to move it to a wall outside the kitchen (there was no option within the kitchen that didn't involve reaching over a counter), which seemed kind of goofy because it's in a place that a panicking cook dealing with a fire would easily forget about it, but I left the old one in place, so now the occupant has two options.

I'm trying to remember the situation with hard-wired smoke detectors in my two-family house. Some of them have to be hard-wired. Maybe one on each floor? But I can't remember the details.

Fire extinguishers: I recall at the O.S.H.A. course, instructor said, if there is a fire, forget about the fire extinguisher. Just get out of the building and call 911. Tell your employers that the fire extinguisher is for the fire department, not them.

So abou2 years later, guy from the town shows up to do a fire inspection. advised that the fire extinguisher is out of charge. I ask, "If there is a fire, do you think I am going to try to extinguish the fire or am I going to leave the building and call 911?"

Inspector: " Just charge the unit or get a new one. That will be $50.00, please."

That was about 15 years ago. No one from the fire department has been back, since.

 fire extinguisher is for a very small fire or if you can't get out....and need it to knock down the fire enough to clear the path.....

I've always thought an extinguisher is for a fire in a pan that you think could spread if you don't put out the flames. But even a firefighter will tell you the lid to the pan is quicker, easier and probably more effective. 

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