Electrical Wiring and Landlord Tenants Rights

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

We keep tripping a breaker and found that 7 lights and plugs all run off the GFI plug in the bath room. The apartment is about 60 years old. Is this electrical wiring normal?

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Landlord and Tenants Rights Electrical Wiring Issues

Question: We keep tripping a breaker and found that 7 lights and plugs both in the bathroom and down in the living room all run off the GFI plug in the bath room. If the GFI plug trips off then all the items are off. The apartment is about 60 years old.  Is this electrical wiring normal?

This electrical question came from: Terry, a Tenant from San Diego, CA

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Terry.
Terry this is an indication that wiring in the apartment has become overloaded. While the original circuit wring may have been acceptable when this 60 year old apartment building was first built, it definitely does not provide the circuits and capacity that is required  for today’s lifestyle.  This is an indication that the owner of the property may want to consider upgrading the electrical system. The landlord may or may not be obligated to upgrade the electrical wiring depending on the local building codes, however the general electrical safety items would include GFI Protection and Smoke Detectors in the required areas. Notify the landlord of the situation. You may also consult your local agency about tenant rights for more information.

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5 Responses to “Electrical Wiring and Landlord Tenants Rights”
  1. KIM says:

    hi – i am renting a house that I love, its old and the phone jack is like 50 years old.. is this on me to pay for to replace/repair since the phone bill is in my name? Also the landlord put heating tape on so their crappy job of roofing wont leak, now that is on my electric bill… should this really be my burden to bare? I am on fixed income and dont really feel this is my responsibility yet its on my phone and electric bills.

  2. Patricia says:

    We live in an apartment complex in Riverside county, CA. Each unit has a concrete patio on the lower level apartments, and wood patios on the upper level. On the patio there is an electric socket (I assume it’s for electric grills, etc.) There is no waterproof covering over the socket, but it’s under the overhang of the patio cover.

    We like to wash off the patio from time to time with a hose to keep it clean (we’re on the lower level). Is it okay to have the kind of socket on the outside of the building with no waterproof cover on it? I believe it could be dangerous to use the hose on the patio with the open socket there, and there is no switch to turn it off.

    Thanks for your answer.

  3. Kara says:

    I have been renting out an apartment in Carmichael,CA for almost 2 1/2 years(a 1bd 1ba 600sq ft unit) and have always got extremely high SMUD electric bills. The unit has all electric appliances. My last bill was $321.02 mind you I work 12 hours a day and I’m normally home to eat and sleep so I don’t use too much energy. I have always fought with SMUD about my bills because they have always been way too high. I tried to find out what was causing this issue and I found I had 2 outlets that were faulty. One was so hot it melted my cord into the wall and burned my finger. The other one did the same but caught on fire. Once I became aware of this I had them replaced and after they were fixed my bills have now gone from $321.02 to $66.50. Now I am fighting with my landlord to pay or pay me back for this $321.02 SMUD bill but they wont. So my question is, what rights do I have or how can I get this issue resolved? My landlord told me my bill is correct and I know for a fact it is not. I had SMUD do an investigation, wrote corporate a letter, sent in my bills and graphs to prove my energy usage dropped AFTER the outlets were replaced and they still refuse to take responsibility. Do I have any legal right to make them pay the bill that was due to faulty equipment? I don’t know what I should do next. I have given them all the correct paperwork to prove this but they simply don’t want to do anything as usual. Please help!

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Kara,
      Unfortunately this type of situation could get somewhat complicated, and please understand that I cannot give any legal advise, however I will share a few thoughts about what you have described. First though, I would point out that your local office whom represents Renters Rights for the State of California may be your best resource about this matter. What may be important to consider is if the electrical wiring in the complex is faulty in any way, especially if other tenants are experiencing similar situations. SMUD may be able to review similar tenants in the same complex and look for abnormal utility bills, however that could be complicated due to personal work schedules, individual living habits and preferences. As for the damaged outlets, further investigation would be necessary to identify the cause of the damage, such as what devices or equipment could have been plugged into the outlets which may have contributed to the damaged. For example, some small appliances such as a space heater may contribute to a damaged outlet, and that may not be considered the responsibility of the apartment complex unless it could be proved that the electrical wiring was faulty.
      I hope this helps you,


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