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Electrical tips & help for tenants in rental properties

Here are some helpful electrical tips & help for tenants in rental properties for safety and maintenance purposes

  1. Know where your consumer unit (fuse board) and circuit breakers are Familiarise yourself with where your consumer unit is in case of power outages, tripped circuits and learn how to reset a circuit breaker safely if required.

  2. Report electrical issues promptly - If you notice any electrical issues such as flickering lights, sparking sockets, malfunctioning switches or smells coming from equipment, report them to your managing agent or landlord immediately!

  3. Avoid overloading circuits or using extension leads - We see far too frequently extension leads installed in properties. Do not plug too many appliances or devices into a single outlet or extension lead. The extension lead will have a maximum of 13amps, overloading this can cause overheating and potentially start fires! They should never be used as permanent solutions. If you feel additional socket outlets are required, request your managing agent or landlord to assess the requirement and obtain quotes from qualified electricians.

  4. Test your fire detectors regularly - Ensure that the smoke & heat detectors installed within the property working properly. All domestic detectors have a test button for this purpose and it could save your life. Test these weekly / biweekly to ensure they are functioning. Newer version are sealed units and batteries cannot be replaced - check the dates which should be written on these to ensure they're within the lifespan. These units should last up to 10 years. Where older version that require replaceable batteries are installed, make sure the batteries are sufficient for use, if you're not sure, replace them.

  5. Protect yourself with electrical safety - Never touch electrical appliances or outlets with wet hands, avoid using equipment with damaged cords or plugs. When unplugging / plugging appliances into sockets, avoid doing this under "load" conditions. Switch off the socket / switch on the socket before plugging in and the same when unplugging.

  6. Use surge protection - Most rental properties (where kept up to date) should have or will have surge protection installed at or near the main consumer unit, though where this is not installed use surge protection where you can to protect your equipment and appliances. Surges can be caused by nearby lightning strikes, power outages, high power electrical equipment, damaged or exposed wiring, overloaded outlets and circuits - electrical surges can further damage equipment and devices

  7. Understand your lease terms - Familiarise yourself with your lease agreement and responsibilities for electrical maintenance, in most cases landlords are responsible for ensuring electrical systems are safe and functional, though there are some instances where the tenant is responsible. Replacing lamps (light bulbs) & compromising circuits by using extension leads

  8. Test your RCD/RCBOs - These devices should be installed at the consumer unit - if you don't have them contact your managing agent or landlord immediately as they are required to be installed for electrical safety. Depending on the installation they may be installed as a main switch, dual RCDs switches or individual RCDs (which is the best way to install these days) They will have a test button indicated on the devices. These are installed to protect you and not as a nuisance. Though like all equipment they don't last forever and fail to work eventually. Testing these devices ensure you're protected. These devices can save your life so it is a good idea to make sure they're functioning. To test these, press the test button on the device, the switch should trip out - again if this does not happen contact your managing agent or landlord immediately. Qualified electricians test these as part of the Private Rented Sector Scheme (PRS) every 5 years now, though a lot can happen in-between these 5 years, therefore it is highly recommended these are tested regularly in the interval.

  9. Seek permission for any modifications - Most rental agreements state you must seek approval for any modifications to the property you are renting. These are owned by landlords and therefore you cannot do as you like in the properties unless authorised to do so. This includes any electrical fittings and additions. You must seek approval by the managing agents or landlord to undertake any electrical works in the property and this must be completed by a qualified electrician. This includes replacing a light fitting, replacing sockets, installing new socket equipment or anything else electrical. Your lease agreement should tell you what you can and can't do. As an example, we had a landlord contact us relating to a tenant who had installed an EV socket for their electric car, there was no authorisation for this and this clearly was not undertaken by a qualified electrician upon our inspection and compromised the safety of the electrical installation & potentially the tenant (who's friend installed the socket). The tenant had to pay the landlord to not only for removing the socket, but also for the non-authorised damage to walls and building fabric that had been caused by the installation. The tenants had also had all socket face plates replaced by the friend as requested by the tenant throughout the house. Cables were loose behind these sockets and again putting the tenant and future tenants at risk. They were ordered and charged for the socket facia plates to be re-instated as well. The tenant was later evicted once it was evident further unauthorised works had been undertaken in the property - It's not worth the risks. Unfortunately despite how long or well you've looked after the property, or if you're willing to pay for any modifications, it is owned by a landlord and any works you'd like done will need authorisation prior to be undertaken.

We hope the above information is useful to any tenants that may read this. If you have any questions or need any advice on any of the points made above or anything else electrical, we would be more than happy to help.

Many thanks from all of us at LMG Electrical Limited

Electrical help for tenants

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