Please Note: This Article is 3 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Brighton HMO and student specialist Amanda Smith recounts some of the more amusing ‘light bulb’ moments from her 20-year career as a professional landlady.

Does this sound familiar? It’s winter time, dark and cold outside and your tenant calls somewhere between 5.30pm and 10pm to say it’s also dark inside their home.

If you’re lucky enough to have a switched-on tenant (excuse the pun), they will have done the following before calling in, asking for help.

  • checked to ensure there isn’t a power cut by opening the front door and looking down the rest of the street;
  • checked their fuse box to see if an appliance has triggered the RCD switches and made amends with the offending article;
  • changed the lightbulb in the room which is presenting as dark!

However, your caller may not have done any of the above in which case you may print off the above checklist and go through it systematically with them to evaluate, educate and inspire.

My best stories are those you couldn’t make up: 

  • The HMO tenant who couldn’t wash up because she couldn’t see, i.e. “the light wouldn’t light up” (sic) – for three weeks.
  • The student who didn’t notice the first bulb in the kitchen had stopped working and called us out as an emergency on a Saturday night when the remaining one gave up.
  • The HMO tenants who had taken the bulbs from the communal hallway when their room bulbs failed then complained when they ran out of bulbs to take.

A lightbulb is a consumable which effectively means that the tenant is responsible for taking the old one to the shop when it fails, match it up and pop the new one back in. But this seems to be a hard one for many tenants to grasp.

Taking into account the above scenarios, do you (a) leave a box of spares in the kitchen cupboard running the risk that, in changing the bulb, the tenant pulls out both the light fitting and surrounding plaster and leaves the bare wires dangling or (b) sigh, grab the keys and do it yourself?

Are you a landlord with a pet hate or an issue you’d like to shout about? Then call the editorial team on 07971814233.

Please Note: This Article is 3 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


  1. How about tenants (2 bed flat – single family) who remove the battery from smoke alarms because it kept beeping i.e. warning the battery needs replacing!
    Cut a long story short my local council, Environmental Health were going to issue me with a notice if I didn’t install a hard wired system. In their view if the tenant acts irresponsibly, it becomes my responsibility!


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