10 Key Electrical Safety Tips for Landlords

Being thorough is a necessary part of a landlord’s job. When you rent a property, it must be up to building code. You are legally responsible for ensuring that all electrical components and wiring work properly. If anything isn’t installed correctly and causes a fire or other damage, you could be liable. 

If you have legal questions, it would be best to consult an attorney. According to Connect Electric, in the meantime, “there are several things that you can do to make sure that your property is up to standards before a new tenant moves in.”

Check Outlets and Wiring for Signs of Damage

Once the property is vacant, you should go through each room and check all outlets and wiring for signs of damage. This may appear as melted faceplates, black marks on walls, or cracked or loose components. Anything that looks damaged should be replaced before new tenants move in.

This is also a good time to clean everything and make sure nothing got inside prong holes or in/around faceplates.

Verify That All Utilities Are Working

Verify that all utilities are working throughout the home. Switch on breakers and look for anything that doesn’t work or works unreliably. If you identify a problem, it is best to hire an electrician. They can inspect everything and find the cause or locate any other issues that should be fixed before renting the property.

Test All Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home. It is also a good idea to change out batteries now, so the new tenants are starting with a fresh set. While this may not impact the performance of the property’s electrical system, it is an essential part of safety.

If anything doesn’t work, replace it. It’s a small price to pay to protect your tenants during an emergency situation.

Run Full Cycles on All Electric Appliances

Run full cycles on all electric appliances to verify that they are working correctly. That includes things like the dishwasher, washing machine, and anything else that you have installed in the home. You can find and correct issues before tenants move in which is good for safety and will keep your renters happy.

Switch Lights On and Off and Listen for Buzzing

It may seem like a small thing, but don’t overlook the lights. Lighting is essential in a home of any size. 

Switch every light on, leave it on for a while, then switch it off. During this time, you should listen for buzzing sounds. If you notice unusual sounds, see flickering, or smell a burning aroma, turn the lights off and call an electrician. 

Even though a bulb turns on, a light fixture or wiring could have a problem that may turn into a fire hazard. This is especially true in homes with older components.

Know Your Electrical Inspection Requirements

As a landlord, it is up to you to know the legal requirements to rent before you welcome new tenants. The rules may vary from one region to another. Some cities will require an inspection before you can rent to someone else. Others may have fewer requirements.

Also, remember that doing the bare minimum won’t always protect you. While you may legally be able to rent, you could face a lawsuit if something goes wrong. Having an electrician inspect the wiring and provide documentation can be very helpful in case something happens in the future.

Ask Previous Tenants About Electrical Problems

The people who used to rent your property may have valuable information for you. Give them an opportunity to talk about any problems or concerns they had. Keep the conversation friendly and use what they tell you to determine if anything needs to be fixed or replaced.

Since they lived there, the previous tenants will be able to let you know if a light switch didn’t work or if an outlet wasn’t supplying even power. You should still perform your own checks and inspections, but this can help you address obvious problems right away.

Make Sure the Old Tenants Didn’t Install Any New Appliances

Most residential leases do not permit tenants to install an appliance without the property owner’s consent. During your inspection of the property, make sure nothing new was added or old appliances were replaced without consulting you.

Anything that was should be either removed or inspected by an electrician to verify that it was put in correctly and is safe to use.

Check for Cables in High Traffic Areas

Your property may have cables running to appliances or if fully furnished, to lamps and other electric devices. If so, make sure these are safely tucked away. They should never cross a high traffic area like a hallway or doorway. 

It is best to secure any slack as well. You could use a zip tie to do so or, at least, make sure cables are hidden away under or behind furniture as best you can. These can be a tripping hazard, especially on move-in day.

Ensure that Appliances Haven’t Been Recalled

You should have records of the appliances currently on the property. Check each model and make sure that there haven’t been any recalls for them. If there are, you should have them fixed or changed out before renting to new tenants.

Keep all documentation and user manuals for the appliances and devices you have in the home. You may need to reference this information if the tenants have questions. It also comes in handy in case of recalls or when you need to utilize the warranty.

Renting a house or apartment can be a lucrative business venture. As long as you know your legal responsibilities and create a safe living environment for tenants, you can enjoy many years as a landlord. It’s best to have the contact information for an electrician that you trust on hand, so you know who to call in case of emergencies.