10 Electrical Safety Requirements for Landlords

Landlords Guide To Electrical Safety

While being a landlord can be quite lucrative, there’s also a significant amount of work involved. You are required to maintain your properties in a safe, livable condition. That means ensuring that basic standards are met in every unit, no matter what.

To meet those requirements, all units must have safe, working electrical service. If they do not, you are obligated to remedy any problem as quickly as possible. It’s important to know exactly what your responsibilities are, as they apply to electrical safety. The following ten points outline what you need to do to keep your tenants safe.

Electrician explaining a process to residential customer

1. All Units Must Have Working Smoke Alarms

Unfortunately, no matter how vigilant you are about safety, fires can happen. If they occur, your tenants’ best chance of surviving is a working smoke alarm. Ensure that every unit has a working smoke alarm, and arrange to test alarms regularly.

Here are a few other things to remember:

  • Use artificial smoke to test alarms
  • Check the expiration date on your smoke alarms and replace them when they expire
  • Consider upgrading to a smart smoke detector or one that is hardwired
  • Don’t forget to install smoke detectors in public areas in your buildings

Finally, if your building has any sort of gas service, you’ll need to have carbon monoxide detectors as well.

2. Proper Outlets Need to be Installed in Every Room

It’s important to have enough outlets in your rental properties. This coverage will help ensure that your tenants don’t overload outlets or cause other issues. 

In addition to having enough, you should have the right outlet for each room. This stipulation means installing grounded, three-prong outlets that work with polarized plugs. Also, GFCI outlets must be installed in any room where there is a risk of moisture.

3. Appliances Need to be Properly Installed

The appliances you include in your rental units are an important feature. Tenants will appreciate having access to in-unit washers and dryers or dishwashers. However, if these aren’t installed properly, they could create a serious electrical hazard. Work with a professional residential electrician to have this work done.

4. Every Unit Must Be Checked For Electrical Safety

Landlords are obligated to ensure that each home or apartment is safe before it is occupied. Contacting a certified professional to conduct an electrical safety inspection is part of that. This work should be done when a new tenant moves in and as required by law for occupied units.

5. A Licensed Electrician Should Perform All Work

It’s perfectly fine to DIY some projects in your rental units, but never electrical work. Instead, contact a licensed residential or commercial electrician for any remodeling or repair work. The work will be done safely and will meet the standards of any agencies or inspectors.

6. Electrical Service Must Be Restored In A Reasonable Amount Of Time

Every tenant has the right to safe, working electricity. If there is an outage for any reason, landlords are obligated to fix the problem and restore electricity in a reasonable amount of time. Learn the laws and ordinances that apply to you to stay in compliance.

7. Landlords Should Respond Quickly To Reports Of Electrical Issues

Your tenants will be the first to notice outlets that spark, loose plugs, flickering lights, and other issues. Encourage them to report these issues quickly. Then, respond quickly by dispatching a qualified electrician for emergency repair.

8. Unsafe Units Cannot Be Occupied

Can residents stay in the unit while electrical work is done? That depends. Sometimes, occupied repairs are possible. However, if there are safety concerns, the impacted properties should be evacuated until things are fixed. Have a plan in place for helping residents find a temporary place to stay.

9. Residents Must Be Made Aware Of Safety Rules

Don’t assume that tenants will know or automatically follow electrical safety rules. As a landlord, you will need to outline any safety rules they are to follow to ensure that no hazardous conditions are created. Here are some of the more common rules to share with your tenants:

  • Do not remove or alter smoke or carbon monoxide detectors
  • Use small appliances such as toasters in the kitchen only
  • Space heaters must be approved by management
  • Avoid using items with frayed cords
  • Don’t use outlet adapters or extension cords

Most importantly, encourage tenants to report any issues they find so your team can repair them quickly.

10. Building-Wide Systems Must Be Properly Maintained

As a landlord, you must ensure that building-wide electrical systems work properly and are kept in good repair. This responsibility includes safety lights in the hallway, HVAC systems, generators, and anything else that could impact the safety of your tenants.

The licensed electricians at Sansbury Electric have been working with area landlords for decades. We can help you with emergency repairs, inspections, and upgrades. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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