Electrical Requirements for Landlords

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    Building Codes

    • Each state and many cities maintain detailed building codes to ensure public safety, including standards for electrical systems. Many landlord and tenant acts specifically require landlords to, at minimum, ensure that their properties meet all applicable building codes. Landlords who do not maintain their buildings to code face the prospect of both fines and possible criminal charges.

    Recourse for Non-Operational Electricity

    • Most states require landlords to provide tenants with a home that is "habitable." This means that the home must be safe and fit for people to live in. It must have a safe and working roof and foundation, and its major systems--plumbing, heat, and electricity--must be operational. If a landlord agrees to pay electrical bills as part of a lease or rental agreement, the landlord is required by law to fulfill that commitment. Many states and cities provide tenants with recourse options against landlords who do not maintain their properties or pay utility bills. These options can include paying the electrical bill or an electrician to make repairs, then deducting the cost from the rent or even terminating a lease. Incidentally, many states make it a crime for a landlord to shut off a tenant's electricity as way of forcing her to move out.

    Amenities and Appliances

    • Leases and rental agreements often require landlords to provide certain utilities, appliances, amenities, and services to tenants. If a lease or rental agreement states that a landlord is required to provide air conditioning, maintain an appliance (such as a refrigerator), or an amenity (such as a hot tub) that uses electricity, the landlord is required to maintain the property's electrical system as well.

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