Double smoke alarms must be tolerated

Smoke alarms are mandatory. But who is responsible for the acquisition and maintenance of a condominium house? The BGH has ruled that the ruling on this can result in double costs for some apartment owners.

A typical case: a commercially available smoke detector under the ceiling

WProperty owners have to accept the double installation of smoke alarms in their homes. A community of owners can decide to install and maintain them in all apartments, even if the owners have already installed warning devices themselves, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe ruled on Friday. (AZ: V ZR 273/17).

In the specific case, an apartment owners association from the Düsseldorf area decided in 2015 to uniformly install and maintain smoke alarms in all apartments. The applicable regulations in North Rhine-Westphalia stipulate that smoke alarms had to be installed in apartments by the end of 2016 at the latest. In the case decided, the costs were EUR 26.75 per signaling device and EUR 4.71 per unit for maintenance. The contract with the executing company ran for two years.

But several landlords had already installed their own smoke alarms. They defended themselves in court against the fact that they should now pay for double devices including maintenance after the decision of the owners’ association. However, the BGH found that the owners’ association can resolve the uniform installation and maintenance of smoke alarms in all apartments. By having a specialist company responsible for all devices, “a high level of security is guaranteed”. This ensures technically that the DIN standards are also adhered to.

If the owner had to take smoke alarms that have already been installed into consideration, this would lead to considerable expense for the manager, especially in larger houses, who has to check and guarantee building security. The additional financial burden for the owner with already screwed devices is also manageable. As early as June 2015, the BGH had made a similar decision to tenants who also installed smoke alarms at their own expense (AZ: VIII ZR 215/14 and VIII ZR 290/14). Here, too, the landlord may have their own smoke alarm devices installed in all rooms, even if two devices are installed with them in some apartments.