People today use far more electricity in their homes than at any time in history. It’s not that we are simply not being proactive in taking steps to reduce our consumption. It’s that we have more appliances in our homes, all of which consume their fair share of power. The more your tenants have plugged into the outlets in your rental home, the higher the potential goes for a fire to occur.
According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), there are approximately 48,000 fires resulting from electrical malfunction or failure. These fires result in injuries, deaths, and costs of $1.5 billion in direct property damage costs. But, there are steps you can take as the property manager or landlord to reduce the risk of fire at your rental properties.
Be sure all work is completed by a qualified and licensed electrician.
- Keep the area around each electrical meter and any other external electrical equipment clear.
- Have your tenant test all AFCIs and GFCIs once each month and to let you know if any of them are no longer working properly.
- Ensure all outlets in bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, garages, and basements are GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) protected. These outlets are designed to turn off the flow of electricity in the event the outlet detects a shock hazard. All outdoor outlets should also be GFCI to reduce the risk of electrical shock.
- Consider replacing all other outlets in your rental properties with AFCIs (arc fault circuit interrupters). These are designed to shut down the flow of electricity in the event a dangerous situation that could result in shock or fire should occur. These will significantly reduce the risk of fire occurring in your rental properties.
- Be sure your rental properties all have the correct number of working smoke detectors in the appropriate locations.
- Offer your tenants free batteries once each year and remind them to check their smoke detectors monthly.
Tips to Give Your Tenants to Help Reduce the Risk of Fire
- Check all extension cords for any signs of wear or damage before using them and ensure they are not running under carpets or across doorways. Any damaged cords should be replaced immediately.
- Never use extension cords for a long-term installation, they are designed for temporary use only.
- Use the correct wattage light bulb in each fixture or lamp. Using bulbs with a higher wattage can lead to overheating and subsequent fire.
- Never plug more than one heat-producing appliance (coffee pot, kettle, toaster, etc.) into an outlet at a time.
- If at any time they feel heat around an outlet or wall switch, or have breakers that constantly trip, they need to contact you immediately.
Preventing fire in your rental units is just a much your responsibility as it is your tenants. If you take the time to work with your tenants, you can significantly reduce the risk of fire, potentially saving lives, and certainly extensive and costly damage.