Should I be required to change a light bulb for a tenant?

49 Replies

I wanted to get your thoughts: 

In my lease, I state that any repairs less that $100.00 are the responsibility of the tenant. I have a younger tenant who is asking me to send someone out to change a lightbulb. I sent over a YouTube video link on how they can do it and she said her step stool won't reach. 


Fellow landlords- while still providing great customer service without breaking the bank- how would you handle this??


Thank you,

Kim

You should have a $50 trip charge in your lease. This is in most states. Now, I have some very old tenants that I do stuff like this for. Never for someone that should be capable of doing it themselves.

@Kimberly Kesterke I have an apartment building with some tenants who should not be climbing step stools or ladders, and neither should I for that matter. My handy woman takes care of all that for a very reasonable fee. She also does some light plumbing, painting and all cleanup including caulking! You can find these people in most markets and when you do make sure you keep them happy!

Originally posted by @Kimberly Kesterke :

I wanted to get your thoughts: 

In my lease, I state that any repairs less that $100.00 are the responsibility of the tenant. I have a younger tenant who is asking me to send someone out to change a lightbulb. I sent over a YouTube video link on how they can do it and she said her step stool won't reach. 


Fellow landlords- while still providing great customer service without breaking the bank- how would you handle this??


Thank you,

Kim


Hi Kim,

You do have some options.

You could just tell her the lease says X, or 

Maybe offer to do it for a $25 fee and just drive over and get it done, then bill it with the rent.

Then when you get there, tell her she needs a tall boy friend.

Or you could just run your place like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRBGGjyBpiw

Good Luck!

How high are the ceilings or access to the lightbulb? If it is a ten foot ceiling maybe you could leave a ladder at the location so people can actually reach the ceiling. If you're renting you aren't likely to have such things. Otherwise, you could just be nice and do it one day on a run/errand or, as others have said, charge a fee. Normally, I give a warning when completing such things and let them know that all future actions will cost a fee. Shoulder shrug. The only bad way to handle it will be whichever way leads to a bad relationship in my opinion. Good luck. 

@Kimberly Kesterke

I had tenants that had the entry way to their unit with a burned out bulb for like a year. Every time I went over there for something, the light was still out.

It didn’t bother me at all. Their choice. Of course, they also weren’t asking me to change their light bulb.

If you start doing things like this, you’ll be receiving calls for a plugged toilet, replacing batteries at 3 am in a smoke alarm, a noisy neighbor, etc.

Refer her to a handyman service...... or tell her you will arrange a handyman service for $X fee

Unless this is some old disabled person or some vastly difficult job that I don't want anyone doing themselves, I'm ot doing this for free.....

I always try to modify my business processes if I find something that is not working for me.  Clearly, this is something that you would prefer to not have to deal with.  If it were me, I would update my lease for the next renewal to include the following phrase under the maintenance provision:

" The changing of light bulbs inside the rental unit is the responsibility of the tenant."

Then, next time, you will not have to have the conversation - simply refer to that provision in the lease and reiterate that is what the policy is.

Unless the ceilings are unusually high, they should be able to figure this kind of thing out so you can move on with your life.

I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW, IF SHE LIVES ON THE 3RD FLOOR AND SHE CAN NOT CARRY THE CASE WATER SHE JUST BOUGHT BY HERSELF, SHOULD THE LANDLORD ALSO BE REQUIRED TO COME OVER? MAYBE WE SHOULD WRITE IN THE LEASES "PLEASE MAKE SURE ALL BULBS BURN OUT AT THE SAME TIME AND AT THAT SAME TIME YOU SHOULD BUY YOUR CASES OF WATER")

I would say it depends on the light bulb location.  Heck, I have one on my stairs and there is no way I can figure out how to put a ladder or reach it, so it has been burned out for the last 13 years.  It was that way when I moved in.

For most bulbs, she can get a chair and safely change it herself.  Something that requires a 10 foot step ladder, they are less likely to have that if they are renting an apartment.

@Kimberly Kesterke

It depends on the tenant. I’ll go above and beyond for my good ones. I’ll keep their rent the same or with very low increases each year if they take care of the place and don’t bother me much. If they are one of the good ones then I’d go over there and take care of it. If you take care of your tenants, then they will take care of your mortgage and stay with you for years :)

Just an observation - I have a theory there are two types of people in this world.

Type 1 - "I need something done - I need to figure out how to do it."

Type - 2 - "I need something done - I need to find someone to do it for me."

Also, is this a normal screw in bulb?  Some of the newer ones are better replaced with someone wo will not break to bulb in the light fixture.

It should be in your lease who is responsible for consumables. Otherwise you rented it with working light bulbs and one stopped working and it is your responsibility to get it back in working condition. 

I always make it the responsibility of the tenant and have wording that when they vacate, any consumables that need replacing I will deduct the cost from their security deposit. 

Perhaps this would be a good time to replace all the bulbs in the unit with LEDs. I do that with all my units. They should, in theory, last 20 years so you won't have this problem again. 

@Kimberly Kesterke

I have a couple tenets that I change light bulbs for. Mostly they are older or can do it easily. It’s no sweat. Takes two minutes and I buy light bulbs in bulk.

My home has very high vaulted ceilings, and use a telescoping pole with a suction cup on the end That I found at a box store to change the light bulbs.  this might be a cheap solution for a situation like yours if you don’t want to provide a ladder for the tenants to fall off of.    I believe the cost was under $20 and can be left in a coat closet on the property. 

Tenants are responsible for any maintenance that can be handled by an ordinary homeowner. This includes changing smoke detector batteries, air filters, lightbulbs, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, changing the fridge water filter, etc. If they want me to handle it, I hire a handyman and charge the tenant.

The exception is if it's something out of the ordinary. A recessed bulb in a 15-foot ceiling with a 65-year-old tenant or cleaning gutters on a two-story house is pushing it.

@Nathan G. I appreciate your comment. It is a normal 8-9 ft ceiling. I will make sure to make it more clear in my leases moving forward what is expected of the landlord and what is expected of the tenant.