In an apartment, who is responsible for replacing lights and things?
December 4, 2012 4:29 PM   Subscribe

I lease my apartment, who is responsible for changing lights on my appliances? Also I have impossibly >12' high ceilings where several built in lights have gone out, do landlords usually change these?

I don't even know where I'd store a large ladder if I were to get one, I don't think my storage space would accommodate it. Nothing in the lease agreement says whose responsibility ongoing maintenance of these owner-owned items are.

So from general experience, am I going to have to figure out a way to replace these or can I contact building management?

I'm asking here first because my management, while good, is corporate and I need to know whether or not I need to push them or not.

I assume these items are similar in nature to the whole oven unit malfunctioning, which the landlord would fix.
posted by geoff. to Home & Garden (20 answers total)
I can't speak to the legal aspects, but my apartment has high ceilings and I use this to change some of my bulbs.
posted by lalex at 4:34 PM on December 4, 2012

My lease specifies that I have to pay for my lightbulbs, but my (very corporate!) management will send out maintenance to actually install them.
posted by itsamermaid at 4:35 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you read through your lease, it's probably in there.
Most of the leases i've had have specified that replacement bulbs in light fixtures are the tenant's responsibility.
Can't hurt to talk to the apt complex and ask - i'd imagine they'd be fine having the maintenance person bring in a ladder to change the bulbs. The cost of the bulbs is trivial, so I'd offer to have some on for them to use, but it's prob not a big deal.
posted by itheearl at 4:36 PM on December 4, 2012

I'm expected to change things I can safely reach. Outside of that, I can call my landlord and they will come out and do the changing for me including the bulbs. Seconding check the lease, but just call em.
posted by deezil at 4:44 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is replacing the bulb in the oven difficult?

Nthing that you buy the ceiling bulbs and have their maintenance guy install.
posted by jbenben at 4:45 PM on December 4, 2012

My standard NY Blumberg lease has a rider for lightbulbs: buying and replacing are my problem.
posted by Brian Puccio at 4:59 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

lightbulbs are consumables, if they are inside your apartment, they are probably your responsibility. Common areas would be your landlords, i would expect. I also have ~11' ceilings and got a medium folding stepladder to change mine, its not a big ladder.

If you pay for electricity, you could use this opportunity to put in energy efficient/longer lasting bulbs.

I was really glad i had the ladder on hand when the batteries for the smoke detector were going and the detector was chirping every minute, could change em so i could get back to sleep!
posted by TheAdamist at 5:11 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Even if it's not in your lease, ask your landlord/manager. I used to have some fixtures that were puzzle boxes 12' in the air. When I called the manager to ask how to change the bulbs in them without permanent damage she sent someone out to do it.
posted by Ookseer at 5:20 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've asked landlords to help with repairs (like lightbulbs) that were my responsibility under the lease, but which were not reasonable to expect an apartment-dweller to resolve. It's never been a problem.
posted by mchorn at 5:22 PM on December 4, 2012

We have a ceiling light above a split level staircase. I actually called the office today to have them replace the bulb. I did this last year, too. I leave the bulb on the stairs for them.
posted by KogeLiz at 5:40 PM on December 4, 2012

I used to live in an apartment with tall ceilings and my landlord told me I could ask maintenance to replace my bulbs. The problem was, it took them days or even a week to come out! You may find this to be the case for you as well, so you should try to figure out a way to buy a ladder or other device to change them yourself. You do NOT want to be at the mercy of an overworked maintenance dude who can't give you light in your bathroom for a week.
posted by joan_holloway at 6:02 PM on December 4, 2012

IAAL (BNYL) who does occasional landlord/tenant work. Your lease governs, but since you say it is silent on the matter, the light bulbs are not going to be considered fixtures. Change bulbs in high ceilings with something like this. If the socket (a fixture) malfunctions, that is going to be the landlord's responsibility; the consumable bulb is yours. This is on the same level with having to replace your toilet paper rolls even though the holder might be attached to the wall.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:15 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

This 11 dollar contraption will make your life easier:

Light Bulb Changer on a Pole
posted by roboton666 at 6:32 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I was living in a rental (corporate management, doorman building, Seattle), I never had to buy or change a single light bulb myself, regardless of whether it was in the high ceiling or just bathroom mirror lights. It doesn't hurt to ask.

When we had someone clean our windows, the leasing office happily lent them their tall ladder, so that might be another option.
posted by halogen at 7:12 PM on December 4, 2012

What do others in your building do?
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:26 PM on December 4, 2012

I'll happily swap your 12' ceilings for my 15' ones ;-)

My experience is that changing bulbs is almost always the tenant's responsibility, but that the light in the oven would be the landlord's problem.

The gadgets that people have linked above will work fine only if the bulb is exposed and may not be suitable for CF bulbs (particularly the curly ones), as they tend to be more fragile in my experience. If you have light fittings that enclose the bulb, you are going to have to find a way to reach them, preferably without breaking your neck. My solution, which I don't recommend (ie don't sue me if you try it and fall), is that I have two ladders about 14' long that I tie together with rope to form an A frame and very carefully use that to reach the bulbs.

For a 12' ceiling, a ladder like this should allow you to get high enough while still fitting in your storage area.
posted by dg at 7:41 PM on December 4, 2012

Get a telescoping pole or see if there's a tool rental place in your neighborhood where you could rent a big ladder. I hated having landlords in my place so I didn't invite them over unless there's a repair that required them.
posted by amanda at 7:42 PM on December 4, 2012

When I lived in an apartment with ceilings this high, our landlord preferred to change the bulbs because he thought it was a liability thing to have us climbing on tall ladders to change them (not sure if it really would have been, but that's what he thought). So it can't hurt to ask! Maybe throw in an "I'm scared of ladders and I don't want to fall" for good measure. :)
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:27 PM on December 4, 2012

My apartment management specifically told me to call them when the bulbs in the high ceilings needed changing. They brought the bulbs and made the change. Always ask before you go out an buy a specific, one-use tool. I imagine your maintenance people already have one and would happily change the bulb. What's the worst that will happen? They'll say no and you have to do it yourself. No loss.

For an oven light I'd probably do that myself.
posted by magnetsphere at 11:10 AM on December 5, 2012

Nth-ing the answers saying to call and ask. Another high-ceilinged-apartment-dweller here, and our super just came in and swapped three light bulbs for us...he even brought the bulbs!
posted by undercoverhuwaaah at 12:48 PM on December 5, 2012

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