Come out of the darkness and into the light!

They can cost less than £1 to buy but who would have thought that such a small item would make such a frequent appearance in deposit disputes. So, here’s your light bulb moment, we’d like to shine some light on the Dos and Don’ts of light bulb etiquette.

Whether you are the tenant or the landlord, we would always advise that the inventory process is done well, both at the start and the end of the tenancy, with thorough recording about the condition of the property and fixtures, fittings, contents and decoration. Properly completed check-in and check-out reports can be a vital piece of evidence should there be a dispute. We advise that it’s good practice for the tenant to be present and agree the record of condition.

If light bulbs or tubes are recorded as present and working at the start of the tenancy, then these are consumable items that the tenant is responsible for replacing and should also be in place and working at the end of the tenancy.

Taking reasonable care of a property they are renting is a key obligation for tenants and government guidance (in the form of a model tenancy agreement)recommends a clause on Care, Maintenance and Redecoration of the property. This includes jobs such as changing light bulbs, unblocking sinks and other little jobs around and about the property that are reasonable for the tenant to do.

If a dispute over the return of the deposit does occur, an adjudicator may award a small compensation amount to the landlord to cover the cost of the actual bulbs, but not for calling out a contractor specifically to change a bayonet bulb that is easily accessed. Tenants can avoid this by replacing the bulbs as needed and leaving ones they have replaced in place at the end of the tenancy.

However, if the light fitting in question happens to be more difficult to access, for example, on a high ceiling, then it may not be unreasonable for the agent or landlord to employ the services of a contractor to change a bulb. This could be claimed as part of the disputed deposit by the landlord and our adjudicator would take into account that this is a task the tenant should have undertaken.

So don’t put yourself in the dark and trip up over light bulbs. Hope you’ve found this illuminating!