Do tenants need access to Electrical Panel (2 units)

4 Replies

Hi all, I own a duplex that has the electrical panel in the basement. The panel is in a finished room I would like to be locked up. I’ve read that if you own less than 3 units, tenants do not need access as long as they have a maintenance number to call if power or fuses go out. However, I’ve also read that every tenant needs access legally. I live in Wisconsin and can’t seem to find anything legally. Any help would be appreciated! Thank you!:)

Hi Aurora, 

In Wisconsin the tenants must have access to their electrical panels.  I have duplexes where the panels are in the basement. When I put a locking handle on the basement door, I had to provide tenants with a key because they are required to have access to the panels.  (I found this out because I had tried barricading off an exterior access door which homeless people were breaking into so they could sleep in the basement. The City and State all graciously, lol, verified that I could not do that.)  

"I’ve read that if you own less than 3 units..." Keep in mind that rarely, and I mean rarely do rental housing regulations ever come down to the size of the owner's portfolio.  99% of regulations will correspond to the number of units in that property not the total number owned by the investor.

I would ad it's also a safety issue to be able to turn off power! 

We always do a quick orientation on "how to operate your home" - here is how you chnage your furnace filter, reset at GFCI (what is a GFCI?), keep an eye on the sump pump (what is normal, what is concerning), washer and dryer hookups (yes gas and elctric, different types of elctric plugs) and most importantly: here is how you shut off the water, the gas and the power in case of an emergency!

Sometimes I get a little bit of an "Oh, I know how do operate a house" attitude, followed by a "Oh, thanks that was helpful" after we are done 5 minutes later.