Electrical Safety Tips For Landlords

by Editor on July 14, 2012

In this article Danielle explains why it’s essential for Landlords to appreciate their responsibilities regarding electrical safety. She also gives some useful tips to help homeowners and landlords assess the condition of their electrical installations.

Electrical Dangers Inherent as Homeowners Become Landlords

Today, with the downturn in the economy, more specifically the housing market and the incredible drop in property values, many homeowners are unable to sell their homes. They owe more than the home is worth, or they are not willing to take the loss, and finally, they want to escape the high payments yet retain their credit. This places the majority of these owners in new territory where they are oblivious to the complexities of renting as well as their obligations to the renter. Despite this, the number of homeowners turned landlords in the UK is growing.

The owner is responsible for all upkeep on the dwelling and to provide a safe environment for the occupants. All appliances or any devices included in the contractual agreement as part of the rental must be maintained at the owner’s expense. Stipulations must be included as to the renter’s responsibilities and liability.
One such obligation (and possibly the most important) is to prevent the possibility of shock and fire due to faulty wiring. A renter injured due to the negligence of the owner places the liability directly on the owner. A lawsuit is very probable.

The rise in inexperienced landlords has caused a bit of consternation for the Electric Safety Council and for good reason. Consider this statistic from their website: Electricity kills at least one person every week in the home and almost 1,000 are seriously injured every day – private tenants are disproportionately affected by electric accidents. Part of this can be attributed to non-professional landlords who aren’t sure what their responsibilities are in terms of maintenance. Luckily, the ESC produces tips for landlords and urges tenants to use its new home safety app.

It is well advised that a comprehensive electrical inspection be accomplished prior to renting to eliminate any possible liability due to defective electrical systems or apparatus. At the same time, landlords need to take the reigns and invest in electrical testing equipment to perform the necessary tasks.

Start at the outside of the house. If you have above ground utilities, make sure that the incoming wire is free of all obstructions (tree limbs, posts). Make sure that the wire has a loop just forward of the attachment to the home. This allows water to drip to the ground rather than entering the home and corroding the wiring.

Inspect the main fuse box by first inspecting the wiring leading to the box. Make sure that it is sheathed or encased in conduit as well as being securely attached to the wall. Inspect the type of wiring used. If the house has been built in the 1930s, see if it has the old outdated two-wire knob and loop wiring. Many times this has been updated with K&T wiring. The problem with this type of wiring is that it has no earth wire and if it is still original or upgraded, the upgraded wire has been spliced within the walls. Unfortunately, this wiring will all need to be replaced before the home can be rented.

Turn off the supply and remove the cover of the fuse box and inspect the wiring for burnt wires, defective insulation and loose connections. Also, make sure the wire gauge to each breaker is compatible in size for the amperage on the breaker. The distance it travels to the zone must also be considered when judging the gauge.

If the home was built in the 1970s or earlier , see if it has tinned copper or aluminum wiring. It will have a bright silver appearance. If so, these wires must not come in contact with any metal surfaces in the box or elsewhere because they tend to corrode.

Inspect all areas with a water source in proximity to switches or sockets. They must all have operating GFCI outlets to protect against accidental shock. They sense a fluctuation between the power and neutral wire and quickly trip to prevent harmful shock. They can be identified by the two buttons (test and reset) on the faceplate. Press the test button and the reset must pop out shutting off the electrical current. Push the reset in, and it must stay. If not, replace them.

Pull all the faceplates off the switches and sockets and make a visual inspection for burnt, loose or defective insulation. Inspect the wiring to the water heater at the top and make sure it is in conduit. Inspect the air handler wiring at the front top where the power and thermostat wiring enters. Repair any potential problems. Inspect all the light sockets in the home and replace any bulbs as necessary. Repair any socket that’s bent or loose.

Check all appliances for defects in operation and power cords as well as their attachment points. Make sure the dryer vent is open and all dust and lint removed. Check the garage door opener for function and secure power wire. Lastly, remove any extension cords used in permanent installations or that hang precariously.

Continue your inspection for any other less obvious problems and when completed take pictures inside and out before the renters occupy the home. This could come in handy as proof of damage if necessary.


Thanks Danielle. I would add that any electrical inspection is best carried out by an experienced electrician who could perform a Visual Electrical Safety Inspection or an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). It is also important to make sure that a property has adequate fire and smoke detection devices installed. These should be tested on a regular basis.

More info for Landlords.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

pasma training birmingham November 21, 2012 at 19:11

Greetings from California! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even
using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, awesome blog!

Thanks. I hope you find something useful. Are you an electrician?

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