A wave of housing changes are on the horizon for those seeking to sell or buy a home after the Prince George’s County Council passed two pieces of legislation affecting housing sales.
Under the July 24 legislation, which will take effect in mid-September, homeowners trying to sell their homes will be required to install carbon monoxide detectors as well as provide a snapshot of utility costs to a potential buyer.
The act is aimed at providing those seeking a home a realistic portrait of what it will cost to live there, said County Councilman Obie Patterson (D-Dist. 8) of Fort Washington who proposed the legislation.
“It’s important to know the expected cost of utilities,” he said. “You can go in expecting to pay $150 a month and wind up spending $300.”
The push for the requirement for carbon monoxide detectors — which pick up the deadly odorless, tasteless and invisible gas — comes after five adults in an Oxon Hill home were killed by the gas on April 25, Patterson said.
A rusted furnace exhaust pipe that allowed the gas into the home seemed to be the source of the deadly gas, said Marc Bashoor, Prince George’s County fire chief, who noted that the home did not have a carbon monoxide detector.
“Those people didn’t have a chance,” he said.
Bashoor has since called for the County Council to require carbon monoxide detectors in all county residences. Requiring the detectors in all homes sold in the county was a step in the process of reaching that goal, he said.
Previously, all homes built before 2007 were not required to have carbon monoxide detectors hardwired into the residence on each level and near sleeping areas, according to the fire code. Under the new law, all homes put on the market will be required to have at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of a home near sleeping areas, according to the legislation.
“If it can save a single life, I think it’s worth it,” Patterson said.
In addition to requiring homeowners to provide 12 months of utility costs when a buyer submits a written request for them, the legislations also calls for the county’s Department of Environmental Resources to put together information to inform homeowners about home energy audits that could lower their utility costs.
Getting a better feel for the cost of owning a home seemed like a positive step for home buyers, said Bill Reid, of Bowie. Such bills would have helped him determine whether it was worth paying the high utility bills at his home in the 13000 block of Youngwood Turn in 1990, he said.
“It would be something to consider,” he said. “We would have dealt with it. We wanted the home.”