It’s estimated that 32% of the Australian population rent their home. Most people looking to rent a property assume that the electrical systems are safe to use and have been thoroughly tested. But, do you know what is tested, what should be tested by law, and what to do if there are issues?
The good news is that new rental laws were issued in March 2021, making it much clearer regarding the responsibilities of renters and rental providers.
It is also worth noting that there are very few electrical things that can be done at home by yourself, in most instances you’ll need to contact your local Sydney electrician. They are qualified and insured to do the work for you.
An electrical safety check should be carried out every two years on a rented property. If the latest check is older than two years the rental provider must pay for a new inspection. Of course, in most cases, it is practical to have an electrical check done before a rental agreement being signed. This ensures both parties know the state of the electrics at the start of the contract.
It makes it much easier to apportion blame and cost if electrics fail during the rental period. Obviously, if you damage the electrics while renting you will be liable for having them repaired and brought back to standard. But, if the damage is simply wear and tear it will usually be the responsibility of the landlord. It is important to confirm this in the rental contract.
Naturally, any repairs that are found during an inspection need to be completed before the property is rented.
The checks that are completed include the following:
The fusebox is the heart of your electrical system. This is where the main power arrives and it is distributed to all the areas of the property via the circuit breakers. The electrician will confirm that the setup meets the code.
There is one circuit breaker on every circuit. The general rules are no more than eight sockets on one circuit or eight light fittings. Each breaker should trip instantly if there is an issue and the electrician will check that each circuit breaker is working properly, not overloaded, and correctly rated for the circuit in question.
Every circuit consists of three wires, a live, neutral, and earth. The electrician must check that they are all wired correctly and that there are no faults on the circuits. A fault can indicate worn wiring or a break in the wires. This would increase the risk of a fire and will need to be located and dealt with.
The electrical inspection also includes all the sockets in the property and light switches. They will be checked for damage and to ensure all the wiring is done properly and meets the current code.
This is important as bad wiring in a socket can give you a nasty shock.
If your landlord is including appliances in the rental, such as a cooker or refrigerator then they will test them to ensure they meet the appropriate standards and are safe to use. This will help to give you peace of mind.
However, the electrician will not test the appliances you bring into the property, they are your responsibility.
All rental properties should have smoke alarms fitted. As part of the electrical inspection, the smoke alarms will be checked to verify if they work. In many cases, these are hardwired into the electrical system. However, even if they are battery operated they will be checked.
The electrician will also check that the earth is correctly connected and that it is present in all the sockets and lighting circuits as appropriate. They will also look at the plumbing system to ensure that the pipes are earthed via the earthing system and don’t risk giving you a shock.
As a renter, you need to respect the electrics within the house. That means you will not tamper with the existing setup, attempt to add additional sockets, or knowingly overload the circuits. This is one of the reasons that the electrical inspection is carried out just before you take on the property, it ensures everyone knows the condition of the electrics.
If you need additional circuits or sockets you’ll need to talk to your landlord and they should commission a qualified electrician to do the work. This can then be added to the existing electrical inspection report to ensure everything is properly accounted for and registered.
As a renter if you do find an issue before, during, or after you have started renting the property it is your responsibility to report it to the landlord. In most cases, it will be their responsibility to resolve the issue. They are duty-bound to do it as quickly as possible as it affects your safety on the property.
Final Thoughts On Electrical Checks in Rental Properties
It is worth noting that the rules are the same regardless of whether you are undertaking a private rental or any other type of rental. The landlord is always responsible for supplying a property that complies with the current electrical code. From the moment you move in the risk may be shared, which means the bills can be shared.
But, the detail regarding this will be in your rental agreement, that’s why you should read it carefully before you start and understand what you are liable for.
All properties rented today should have circuit breakers and not the old-fashioned fuses, if they don’t they don’t comply with the current legislation and should be avoided.
Remember, an electrical inspection isn’t just done before you move in, they need to be re-done every two years to ensure your electrics remain safe and the property is fit to be rented. If this isn’t done the insurance may be invalidated which could give you a real headache.