Amid fears a halt in legally-required smoke and carbon monoxide detector inspections would cause the residential real estate market to seize up, Gov. Charlie Baker has issued an executive order waiving this requirement under certain conditions.

With fire departments across the state concerned about exposing their staffs to COVID-19 during smoke and carbon monoxide detector inspections, fears had mounted in the real estate community that departments could pause these inspections, putting any in-process sale in jeopardy. State law requires the inspections to certify a home’s detectors are working before any sale is concluded.

Baker’s executive order, which took effect Friday night, allows these inspections to be deferred at the time of sale, provided:

  • All parties in a sale agree in writing that the buyer is responsible for making sure the home has working, legally-approved smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • The buyer agrees to make sure the home is so equipped immediately upon taking title to it.
  • The buyer ensures a fire department inspection of the home is carried out within 90 days of the end of the state of emergency Baker declared earlier this month to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Studies have shown that people who have unknowingly contracted the coronavirus can infect others for several days before displaying symptoms, themselves.

“This executive order allows sales and transfers to move forward under certain legal conditions while protecting the public and first responders from the spread of the COVID -19 virus,” state Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said in a statement. “We strongly recommend everyone make certain that their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are less than 10 years old, are in working order, and tested monthly.”

While the order lifts one barrier to continued home sales during the coronavirus emergency or the conclusion of sales agreed to before the emergency began, it does not address other challenges real estate agents and mortgage providers are worried about, including: appraisers unable or unwilling to enter homes where families might be quarantined or self-isolating; concerns about in-person meetings with attorneys needed for signatures and notaries; and registries of deeds that have closed or have limited or no ability to receive electronically filed documents.

Baker Order Allows Home Sales Without Smoke Detector Inspections

by James Sanna time to read: 1 min