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Is a Landlord or Tenant Responsible for Changing a Light Bulb?

You’d think the answer to this question is straightforward because traditionally, landlords share most of the maintenance and repair responsibility, but could a landlord really be responsible for changing a light bulb?

First of all, it’s possible for a landlord and tenant to agree on almost anything as long as the terms of the agreement are lawful including who should change the light bulbs. Aside from any unique agreements, here’s how a typical arrangement between a landlord and tenant goes:

Fixture Lighting

Lighting that is permanently affixed to the inside of a dwelling unit such as wall sconces, ceiling fans, or kitchen is often the tenant’s responsibility for changing burned out light bulbs. The same applies to outdoor fixtures unless they are on a second floor or unreachable – requiring a professional to change them – which is the landlord’s responsibility.

Personal Lighting

While obvious, it’s important to note that any personal lighting moved into the rental property by the tenant such as desk lamps, floor lamps, and table lamps is the sole responsibility of the tenant when it comes time to replace a bulb.

Appliance Lighting

This is where things are generally the landlord’s responsibility. Even though the usage of the appliance is by the tenant and a light bulb is considered an expendable item, appliance lighting found in an oven, clothes dryer, refrigerator, etc., is the landlord’s responsibility most of the time. This is most likely because some appliance lighting may be difficult to change and require a service call.