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Are landlords required by law to keep smoke detectors in working order?

Asked by user in Missouri.

The smoke detector in my apartment building has been beeping (low battery) for about a month. I have called and emailed three times, but have been ignored. What legal action do I have, if any?

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

In most cities and towns in Missouri, landlords are NOT responsible for maintaining smoke alarms. In fact, many cities and towns, including St. Louis, have ordinances that require tenants to "maintain functional batteries for each smoke detector."

However, landlords in Missouri are required to make repairs if given notice about the item that needs to be repaired.

I would recommend making a written request to fix the smoke detector. It's a good idea to send the letter to your landlord "certified mail with return receipt requested" so you have proof that the letter was delivered. If the repair is still not made, you may be able to have the smoke detector fixed yourself and deduct the cost from your rent. This option is available if the following conditions are met:

  • You have lived on the property for at least 6 months
  • You have paid all rent owed
  • You have provided written notice to the landlord and allowed the landlord 14 days to respond
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