Electrical Safety Checks: What Property Managers and Residential Rental Providers Must Know

Electrical Safety Checks

As a Victorian property manager or landlord, you are responsible for ensuring all your rental properties are up to code and safe for your tenants. 

This includes ensuring that all electrical systems in your properties are regularly inspected to ensure they comply with Australian standards and meet the requirements driven by Consumer Affairs Victoria – an electrical safety check conducted every two years.

Without adequate electrical safety checks, you risk exposing yourself and your tenants to dangerous situations, such as electrocution, fires, and other hazards that can be costly regarding property damage, insurance liability and personal injury. 

Not only that, failing to adhere to regulations can also result in hefty fines of up to $55,000 (so we’ve heard along the grapevine).

As such, you must understand the importance of conducting regular electrical safety checks on your rental properties and take steps to ensure they are done properly. Don’t forget other rental safety checks as well such as gas safety checks and smoke alarm safety checks.

What does an electrical safety check involve?

Electrical safety checks as enacted by Energy Safe Victoria, who have released a sample report that is introduced by the following statement:

This electrical safety check is for electrical safety purposes only and is in accordance with the requirements of the Residential Tenancies. Regulations 2021 and is prepared in accordance with section 2 of the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 3019, Electrical installations— Periodic verification to confirm that the installation is not damaged or has not deteriorated to impair electrical safety; and to identify

Methods of testing:

The electrical maintenance methods we conduct the checks are (as referred to by ESV):

1. Visual Inspection: As far as practicable, a visual inspection of the following is carried out as per sections 3 and 4 of the AS/NZS 3019.

2. Testing Verification: Polarity and correct connections testing, earth continuity testing, safety switch testing

Items that are tested (either by visual or test)

  • Consumer Mains
  • Switchboard, circuit breakers and other components within
  • Earth Electrode and System
  • Power: sockets and switches
  • Lighting systems fittings 
  • Wiring and Cabling

Electrical appliances like hot water, ovens, A/Cs, cooktops, space heaters, dishwashers, fans, 

Smoke alarm checks (also covered in a separate article here).

Note that this includes every accessible light, power point and appliance in the property. The lights and powerpoints take up the majority of the safety inspection.

Let’s dive a little deeper into each item above to explain what each component is, what we look/test for and why that’s important.

Consumer Mains

The consumer mains are the incoming conductors from the street to the main switchboard of the property. The main thing we check for is that the consumer mains are being adequately protected. 

This involves ensuring the installation’s main switch is not too big for the incoming main cable. If so, it can allow too much current through the switch to the cable, which may result in overload and potentially a fire.

For example, if you had an 80a main switch but only had 6mm consumer mains coming into your main switch and neutral bar, then the 6mm that cannot carry 80a could be subject to deterioration and become a hazard. If the main switch’s current carrying capacity is too big for the consumer mains, as explained, we then check the main fuse during electrical safety checks, which also protects the installation. 

If this fuse has too high of a current rating for the consumer mains, then we will change over the main switch to its correct size current rating (this is not the case with highrises in the city).

Switchboard

The electrical switchboard in your property is a centralised panel used to distribute electrical power within a property. 

It serves as a hub for controlling and protecting the electrical circuits and systems that power lights, appliances, sockets, and other electrical devices.

electrical safety checks

As of the 29th of March, 2023, it is a requirement for all power and lighting circuits to have switchboard-type RCD/RCBO protection. 

It is recommended but not required for hardwired appliance circuits like ovens, cooktops, hot water units, etc.

We are testing all RCDs and RCBOs in the switchboard to ensure they trip when a fault is present. 

We also do a visual check for a range of different rules/regulations.

We check to ensure the cables are the right size for the current rating of the circuit breakers/RCDs/RCBOs. 

We ensure no visual damage to any devices in the switchboard, the cables have suitable mechanical protection, and the switchboard enclosure provides suitable protection against live parts. All of these are electrical safety checks.

Earth Electrode and System

The earth electrode is an electrical grounding system that provides a safe pass for the dissipation of electrical faults, stay currents and lightning strikes into the ground. This reduces the risks of electrical shocks, fires and damage to the equipment. 

Common types of earth electrodes include metallic rods driven into the ground or wire bonded to copper piping. The latter is common with older properties and apartment complexes.

To test the main earth conductor in a single domestic installation, we run an earth lead from the earth electrode to the main earth connection in the switchboard and undertake a continuity test to ensure that the resistance of the main earth cable is less than the required 0.5 ohms. 

The reasoning behind this is the main earth cable is required to have minimal resistance to enable the passing of electricity through it in the event of an electrical fault.

For electrical safety checks in apartments, we cannot test the main earth that is being run to the group meter panel, but through the testing of electrical components of the home, we can test if an earth electrode is present.

Testing the earth of all the socket outlets and electrical appliances in the home is another test that is part of our electrical services that we do to ensure that each electrical fitting has suitable protection in the event of a fault, each electrical fitting has suitable protection.

Power Sockets (AKA: Power Outlets or Power Points)

Power sockets are an important part of everyday living, and if you’ve come this far in life, I’m sure you know what these are.

During electrical safety checks, we test the earth, neutral and active/actives of each powerpoint with testing equipment that provides us with the condition of each cable at each power point. 

Suppose a power point does not have an earth cable, which can occur in some older homes, we will disconnect the power point from the circuit. We do that with the reasoning that if an electrical appliance that requires earth protection has an earth fault, the fault will not carry to the switchboard and trip the circuit. This is where hazards can occur. 

We check the conditions of each power point, and if the condition is deemed unsafe by our electricians, we recommend replacing the power point.

Lighting

Just like power sockets, we know that lights not only service important visibility functions, but careful and thoughtful lighting can truly brighten your day.

While performing electrical safety checks, we test each light fitting to see if it is functional, if each switch is in proper working condition and if all components are in good condition.

We make sure the lighting circuit has RCD/RCBO protection in the switchboard. If it doesn’t, we require adequate protection to be installed in your switchboard. This is because the lighting circuit has many electrical components throughout the home, and they need to be adequately protected in the event of a fault.

Wiring Circuit Cabling 

The wiring in your property is extremely important to ensure the safe transfer of electricity from your switchboard to your lighting, power and appliances.

There have been significant advances in wiring in Australia over the past 100 years as technology advances, and we learn from mistakes. What’s essential here during electrical safety checks is ensuring that the cable is:

  • Appropriately sized for the circuit 
  • In good condition and not degraded 

In either of the above cases, where these are inadequate, the result may be a fire.

Types of cables used in Australia include:

  1. Early Wiring (1900s)
    1. Knob and Tube Wiring
  2. Cloth-insulated wiring (mid-1900s)
    1. Vulcanised Indian Rubber Wiring 
  3. Modern Wiring 
    1. Tough Plastic Wiring (TPS)

We check to ensure all accessible wiring without mechanical protection is above the minimum height requirement of 2 meters. Our testing for the socket outlets in the installation also tests the insulation of the power cables to ensure the cables are not coming in contact with one another.

Electrical Appliances, 

Electrical appliances checked during electrical safety checks include (but are not limited to):

  • Ovens
  • Cooktops
  • Rangehoods
  • Dishwashers
  • Washing Machines
  • Dryers
  • Fridges
  • Exhaust Fans 
  • Ceiling Fans
  • A/C Units
  • Hot Water Systems 
  • EV Chargers 

What we test for is, of course, that each item is installed correctly and is functioning. We also test the earthing of each appliance to ensure that the metallic parts of the appliance will not become live in the event of a fault.

Smoke Alarm Safety Checks Checks 

Last but certainly not least is the testing and verification of smoke alarms. These are usually completed at the same time as electrical safety checks but have their own rules and tests covered in more detail in other articles.

Smoke alarm checks should be more than pressing a test button to make sure it beeps and move on. 

We check that:

  • There are enough smoke alarms in the property 
  • The smoke alarms installed are in the correct positions to wake sleeping occupants 
  • The smoke alarms are functional when tested with smoke 
  • The smoke alarms are within date (they usually expire every 10 years)
  • The smoke alarm battery is intact and OK (usually replaced yearly)
  • The smoke alarms are loud enough 

How long does an electrical safety check take?

The duration of the process will depend on the size and complexity of the property. As you can imagine, testing every power point in a 10-bedroom mansion in Toorak will take much longer than a studio apartment in Southbank.

Electrical safety checks usually takes around 1-3 hours to complete, but there can be additional time for any repairs that need to be done. 

In most cases, we recommend that rental properties receive electrical safety checks at least every two years in line with the consumer affairs standards. 

This helps identify and address potential issues quickly before they become more serious or hazardous. 

Additionally, we suggest having your rental property inspected whenever new tenants move in or out, as this is an ideal time to ensure the electrical system is functioning safely and correctly.

How often does an electrical safety check need to be done?

Electrical safety checks must be conducted on all rental properties at least every two years. 

It may be a good idea for older properties to have more frequent inspections due to the increased risk of potential hazards. 

Similarly, if any new wiring or appliances are added to a property, an additional inspection should be carried out to ensure the safety and compliance of the electrical system.

Who Can Perform Electrical Safety Checks?

At Appliance Fixer, we are qualified and experienced to provide electrical safety checks in compliance with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 3019. 

Our electricians have years of experience in this field and are capable of identifying any potential risks associated with the electrical system in your property. 

We can also issue you a safety report that details our findings and makes recommendations for improvement. We take pride in providing top-notch service at an affordable rate so that you can depend on us for all your electrical safety checks needs.

Electrical Safety Check Reports 

An electrical safety check report is an inspection and assessment of a rental property’s electrical wiring and appliances. 

The report is created by a qualified professional, such as an electrician who has special training and certification to inspect residential properties. 

Once the electrical safety checks is complete, the electrician will create a detailed report outlining potential hazards or recommended repairs. 

The report should also include any relevant information about local building codes or Australian standards that may apply. 

Photos usually accompany this report as evidence of a pass/fail.

The property manager, owner, and tenant should all be informed of the electrical safety checks reports results. It is important for all parties involved to understand the findings to ensure that any necessary repairs or maintenance are completed in a timely manner.

What Property Managers for Rentals Need to Know About Electrical Safety Checks

As a property manager, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of your tenants. This includes ensuring all electrical wiring and appliances in your rental properties are safe and up to code. 

The only way to do this is through regular electrical safety checks. 

Electrical safety checks are important for both owned properties and rentals. Still, it is essential for those who rent out homes or apartments as their tenant’s lives may be in danger if any electrical hazards exist on the property.

If you’re new to property management, you may not know how to assess the electrical systems at your rental properties properly. 

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your rental units are safe and up to code. First, it is important to hire a qualified professional, such as an electrician with specialised training and certifications, to inspect residential properties. 

They will be able to accurately assess the condition of the wiring system and identify any potential hazards or problems that need attention. 

Second, it is important for the property manager, owner, and tenant all be informed of the results of the inspection so they understand which repairs or maintenance needs must be completed immediately for everyone’s safety. Finally, having a written report from an electrician outlining any issues that have been identified is essential when it comes time to make repairs or maintenance changes.

By following these steps and ensuring that all parties fully understand the results of any inspections during electrical safety checks performed on rental units, you can ensure that everyone stays safe while living in your properties.

What to Expect from a Rental Safety Check

At Appliance Fixer, we make electrical safety checks easy and hassle-free. We start by setting up an appointment over the phone, during which we discuss the details of the electrical safety checks with you and answer any questions you may have. We then send our team of certified electricians to your rental property to perform a comprehensive inspection. 

Our electricians will carefully inspect each area of the home or property, making note of any potential risks or issues that require attention. 

Once they’ve finished their inspection, they will discuss their findings with you and provide a written report outlining any repairs or maintenance that needs to be completed for the safety and compliance of everyone living in the rental property. 

The electricians will also provide advice on how best to maintain proper electrical safety in the future, as well as scheduling dates for future inspections if needed.

A Review of the Rental Tenancies Act of 2021

The Rental Tenancies Act of 2021 (RTA 2021) sets out regulations and standards for electrical safety in rental properties. All rental properties must comply with the Australian Standard 3760 for testing electricians, and all electrical installations must be installed in accordance with the Australian Standard AS NZS 61439. 

It is mandatory that all residential rentals have a safety switch installed on the main power circuit. Additionally, it is essential to regularly test residential electrical wiring, which should only be done by an Electrician or Electrical Inspector who is appropriately licensed or certified. The initial verification of any given electrical installation must also be completed by an Electrician or Electrical Inspector with the correct qualifications.

When renting a property in Victoria, tenants are entitled to receive a copy of an electrical compliance report before entering into a tenancy agreement. This report should include information about any risks associated with the property’s electrics and any maintenance and repairs needed to ensure compliance with legislation. Landlords are required to provide these reports whenever requested by their tenants.

At Appliance Fixer, we make it easy for rental property managers to stay compliant with the RTA 2021 and keep their tenants safe – our team of certified electricians will perform comprehensive inspections and provide detailed reports outlining any potential issues that require attention during electrical safety checks. We also offer advice on how best to maintain proper electrical safety in rental properties and schedule dates for future inspections if needed.

Victorian Regulations and Standards for Electrical Safety for Rentals

All rental properties in Victoria must comply with the RTA 2021 and adhere to Australian Standards for electrical safety. According to the law, all residential rentals must have a safety switch installed on their main power circuit and undergo regular testing of electrical wiring by qualified electricians or Electrical Inspectors. Additionally, it is mandatory for landlords to provide a copy of an electrical compliance report upon tenant request. We provide these after electrical safety checks.

These regulations are put in place to ensure that tenants are safe from any potential hazards associated with electricity and protect landlords from liability if an incident occurs due to unchecked electrics on their property. 

Regular inspections conducted by certified electricians help guarantee the safety of those living in rental properties by identifying any issues that may arise due to outdated wiring or incorrect installation processes.

Safety checks also help minimise risks associated with gas, smoke alarms, and other related components within a property. Landlords should proactively check these areas before putting them up for rent and employ regular maintenance schedules such as smoke alarm testing where necessary. 

Taking these precautions can save time, money, and stress in the long run and avoid legal complications.

Melbourne-Specific Safety Concerns and Tips

Melbourne is a bustling city filled with apartments and rental properties, making electrical safety checks a must for both renters and property managers. Electrical safety is essential for avoiding fires, electrical shock, and other potential dangers. 

Here are some specific safety concerns and tips that all Melbourne renters and property managers should be aware of regarding electrical safety checks.

First, it’s important to ensure that all electrical appliances are properly wired and installed to avoid the risk of faulty wiring. It’s also a good idea to check that the smoke alarm is in working order and install an extra one if necessary. 

When inspecting the property, look for any exposed wires or faulty plugs that could cause a fire hazard. Finally, it’s also important to ensure that all appliances are in good condition and not defective. 

Local Resources and Authorities for Safety and Information Assistance

Local Resources and Authorities for Safety and Information Assistance:

-Energy Safe Victoria (ESV): www.esv.vic.gov.au/

-Victorian Building Authority (VBA): www.vba.vic.gov.au/

-Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV): www.consumer.vic.gov.au/

-Fair Trading Victoria (FTV): ftv.vic.gov.au/

-Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT): vcat.vic.gov

If you have any questions or concerns regarding electrical safety checks and regulations, we encourage you to contact Energy Safe Victoria (ESV), Victorian Building Authority (VBA), Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) or Fair Trading Victoria (FTV) for more information. 

You can also visit the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) website to get an in-depth understanding of tenancy laws in Australia.

Are You Looking for an Affordable Yet Competent Safety Check Service Provider?

It is essential to ensure that all electrical appliances are properly wired and installed, as well as check that the smoke alarm is functioning correctly to avoid the risk of fires and electrical shocks. 

Furthermore, local resources such as Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) and Victorian Building Authority (VBA) should be contacted for more information regarding safety regulations and standards. As an expert in this field, we encourage property managers to prioritise electrical safety by performing annual safety checks on their rental properties. 

Appliance Fixer can provide reliable, affordable, and competent safety check services – so don’t hesitate to contact us if you are looking for a reputable service provider.

We’re happy to perform electrical safety checks on any residential property in Melbourne and, hopefully, the rest of Victoria. If you’re interested in an annual safety check inspection, we encourage you to contact us here or give us a call at 1800 683 639. We also offer plumbing services and plumbing maintenance as well as gas heating services such as gas ducted heater services, gas space heater repairs, and wall furnace services.

Stay safe all!

Frequently Asked Questions About Electrical Safety Checks

How much is an electrical safety check Melbourne?

The cost of electrical safety checks Melbourne depends on the size and complexity of the property in question but typically ranges from $200 to $300. 

However, this is just a general estimate – for an accurate price quote, it’s best to contact Appliance Fixer directly.

What is the Australian standard AS 3000?

The AS/NZS 3000:2018 is the Australian/New Zealand Standard for electrical installations. This standard provides requirements and guidelines for the design, construction, and verification of electrical installations in various types of buildings and structures, including residential, commercial, and industrial settings.

AS/NZS 3000 covers a wide range of topics related to electrical installations, including wiring systems, equipment selection, safety measures, protection against electrical shock, earthing and bonding, circuit design, and more. It’s an important document used by electricians, engineers, contractors, and regulatory authorities to ensure that electrical installations are done safely and effectively. These standards are inspected via electrical safety checks.

What is Australian standards AS 3019?

The AS/NZS 3019:2007 is the Electrical Installations – Periodic Verification standard. This standard provides guidelines and requirements for the periodic verification of electrical installations to ensure ongoing safety and compliance with relevant regulations.

AS/NZS 3019 outlines the procedures and criteria for inspecting, testing, and documenting electrical installations at various intervals during electrical safety checks, such as after installation, alteration, or addition, and periodically thereafter. The goal of this standard is to ensure that electrical installations are maintained in safe and reliable working conditions throughout their operational life. We do these through electrical safety checks.

Are safety switches compulsory in Victoria rental properties?

In Victoria, Australia, safety switches are now compulsory in rental properties (as of 29/03/2023). This is in accordance with electrical safety regulations set by Energy Safe Victoria (ESV). By law, all rental property owners and managers must have a safety switch installed on the main switchboard of their property. Safety switches provide an extra layer of protection against electrocution and electrical fires. We inspect these during electrical safety checks.

How do you test residential electrical wiring?

Testing residential electrical wiring is an integral part of ensuring the safety of a home. It should be done by a qualified electrician to confirm that all electrical components and circuits are properly wired and functioning correctly.

Who is responsible for the initial verification of a given electrical installation?

The initial verification of a given electrical installation is the responsibility of the certifying electrician. The certifying electrician must confirm that all wiring, equipment, and installations meet local building codes and applicable electrical safety standards. We ensure these during electrical safety checks. 

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