May a landlord’s duty to install smoke alarms be waived?

No. House Bill 1168, which became effective on September 1, 2011, requires a landlord to install smoke alarms: (1) in each bedroom; (2) in each hallway that services multiple bedrooms; AND (3) on each level of the dwelling unit. A landlord of a property first occupied before September 1, 2011, has until January 1, 2013, to comply these new requirements. Per the Property Code, the duty to install smoke alarms may not be waived. Two ways that a landlord may alternatively comply with requirements relating to smoke alarms are to have a fire detection device that includes a fire alarm device as defined by Section 6002.002 of the Insurance Code or to install smoke detectors in compliance with Chapter 766 of the Health and Safety Code. If a landlord is not in compliance with the law on smoke alarms, a tenant may seek remedies such as a judgment for damages related to the violation and court costs.