Electrical Issues That Can Fail a Rental License Inspection

Date Published: September 28, 2022

If you are a property manager or rental property owner in Boulder or Denver, you likely know a thing or two about rental licenses. The city of Boulder has required rental licensing for quite some time. And the city of Denver is following in its neighbor’s footsteps, making rental licensing mandatory by January 2024 for all rental properties.

A rental license inspection is meant to ensure that a rental property is a safe living space for its occupants. The inspection covers a wide variety of aspects throughout the home. But in this article, we will focus on the electrical components of the home.

Electricity is no joke. So sometimes even seemingly minor issues can lead to huge safety hazards. This is why it is important to be aware of the electrical issues that can fail a rental license inspection.

Missing GFCI Outlets in Bathrooms

At least one GFCI outlet is required in all bathrooms. This is considered a critical safety issue, and failure to meet this requirement will result in a failed rental license inspection.

A GFCI or “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter” is meant to prevent electrical shock. The GFCI can detect any irregularities in the electrical currents at an outlet. When these irregularities are detected, the GFCI will immediately shut off, preventing any electrical hazards.

GFCI Outlet in bathroom required to pass a rental license inspection

The proper GFCI outlet in a bathroom. Image sourced from: tnelectric.org

This type of outlet is especially important when near water features because water is a very conductive medium for electricity. So it follows that bathrooms need the extra security that GFCI outlets can provide. For a more in-depth discussion on GFCI outlets, check out our article, GFCI Outlets Explained.

Exposed Electrical Wiring

Wiring that is not contained by the proper conduit or enclosure is another way that can cause a rental license inspection failure. This one is pretty self explanatory. Simply put – exposed wiring or wiring in disrepair can be dangerous.

Electrical outlet without a cover will fail a rental license inspection

Outlet without a cover. Image sourced from: www.diychatroom.com

When conducting rental license inspections, our inspectors pay close attention for these types of issues. Outlets without covers is one of the more common defects we observe. This may seem like a minor defect to some. But on the contrary, uncovered outlets present serious safety risks – especially for curious children or pets. If any aspect of the property’s electrical system is exposed and deemed unsafe, it will be called out for evaluation and repair.

Improperly Wired Outlets

During the rental license inspection, inspectors will also be checking each outlet for functionality and proper wiring. They have specialized outlet testing devices that can indicate issues the outlet may have. Reverse polarity is a defect commonly found when an outlet is accidentally wired in reverse. With this reverse wiring, an outlet has the potential to produce an unstable current that can lead to serious electric shock and/or property damage.

Outlet tester

Outlet tester. Image sourced from: https://nerdtechy.com

This is an obvious concern for any unsuspecting tenant. So naturally, this type of issue will need to be fixed to pass an inspection. We elaborate on this topic in our past article about common electrical issues.

We also check the main electrical panel to ensure that a) it is accessible and not obstructed and b) it is properly wired with no safety hazards.

Use of Permanent Extension Cords or Makeshift Wiring

Inspectors will be on the look out for any problematic, makeshift wiring. We want electrical wiring to be professionally, and safely configured. So any wiring that is tacked, stapled or nailed to the walls will not be acceptable.

Additionally, extension cords being utilized for permanent wiring will be deemed hazardous and grounds for rental inspection failure. Extension cords can not be extending across doorways, from room-to-room, through unit walls, or across walkways.

Note that, according to section 3.4 of Denver’s Residential Rental Program guidebook, property owners or managers can address and remedy these problems to a satisfactory configuration during the inspection, if possible.

What Will Not Fail a Rental License Inspection?

There are certain electrical related issues that we may normally note in a standard home inspection that may not be required for a rental inspection.

For instance, missing GFCI outlets in the kitchen will not fail a rental license inspection. Being that kitchens have water features and a lot of electrical appliances in use, it is highly recommended to have GCFI outlets in this setting. However, there are technically no hard rules on the matter with regards to rental inspections.

Additionally, there are no rental license inspection rules about electrical panel brands. There are certain problematic panels, such as Federal Pacific Electrical Panels and Zinsco Electrical Panels, that were discontinued due to safety hazards. Though they are becoming more and more rare, we do still find these panels in older homes. We will always make note of these and recommend replacement in a standard inspection. But again, a rental license inspection does not require any panel replacements to be made.

Federal Pacific Electrical Panel

Federal Pacific Electrical Panel. Image sourced from: panel-upgrades.com

Are You Ready for Your Rental License Inspection?

Rental license inspections take time and cost money. So why not shoot to pass with flying colors on the first try? Before applying for a rental license, we recommend that owners/property managers read up on all the requirements for their region. Check out articles like this one or you can go directly to the handbooks provided by the city of Boulder and the city of Denver. That way you can get your property certified, safe and tenant-ready in no time!

If you are in need of rental license inspection services, we hope that you consider us here at Scott Home Inspection. We have a team of certified rental license specialists that service both Denver and Boulder. Feel free to contact us for more info or to schedule your inspection today.

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About the Author: Chris Kimmel

Chris Kimmel worked as an Associate Home Inspector for two years, handling numerous services including sewer scope inspections, pest inspections, mold air sample testing, radon testing, and water quality testing. Chris now works with Scott Home Inspection as a Content Writing Specialist.

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