Rewiring light fixtures in an apartment rental

TalkaTalka Registered User regular
I’m trying to replace all the lighting in my home with color-changing Alexa-enabled smart lighting. I’ve replaced all the lighting that required straightforward lightbulb swaps. However, there are seven light fixtures in my home that don’t use standard light sockets. Three are hanging halogen bulbs with bi-pin connectors, two are circular fluorescent ceiling tubes, and two are overhead fluorescent bulbs.

I’m pretty ignorant about lightbulbs and electrical wiring, so I probably described those incorrectly.

Furthermore, I live in an apartment rental that’s professionally managed. It's a high-rise whose boilerplate lease prohibits alterations: “Unless authorized by statute or by us in writing, you must not perform any repairs, painting, wallpapering, carpeting, electrical changes, or otherwise alter our property.”

So how do I proceed? Specifically:
  1. How risky is it for me to ignore my lease and proceed with these alterations? Friends I’ve talked to say they’ve ignored similar clauses in their own leases. But am I at risk of pissing off my landlord if they see the alterations? I’m fine making the alternations now and rewiring them again when I move out. But what if my landlord enters my apartment and sees the alterations? What actions could they takes against me, and how likely are they to do so? Will asking for permission hurt or help my cause?
  2. Is it even possible to rewire these fixtures? I’m clueless about how to proceed but suspect I could either a) figure it out from YouTube tutorials, or b) hire an electrician or handy-man to make the alterations for me. However, that assumes the alterations are possible in the first place. Is it safe to make these alterations? Are there fire concerns if the wiring isn’t intended for my use case?
tl;dr: I’m clueless about electrical wiring and lightbulbs but want to replace fluorescent lighting and other non-standard bulbs with standard E26 and E12 light sockets. Should I rewire the fixtures, given that I live in an apartment rental and don’t know what I’m doing?

Posts

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited September 2017
    For the others, I really wouldn't rewire the fixtures. It's not super hard, but price of failure is high.

    Edit: Thought you had those trash incandescent pin sockets.

    MichaelLC on
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  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    ask the landlord / estate agent if you can hire an electrician to professionally change the fittings. if they say no, move on.

    it's not even a matter of getting away with it. it's a matter of personal safety, the security of having a roof over your head, and respect.

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  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    bsjezz wrote: »
    ask the landlord / estate agent if you can hire an electrician to professionally change the fittings. if they say no, move on.
    it's not even a matter of getting away with it. it's a matter of personal safety, the security of having a roof over your head, and respect.

    Definitely this.
    Step one is to send your landlord an email detailing what fixtures you want to swap out and what replacement fixtures you want to swap in. It shouldn't take too long, and getting the response in writing means they can't ding your deposit for this when you leave.
    If you're not confident on your wiring skill, definitely include in that letter to the landlord that you're looking to hire a professional to do the work, possibly ask if they can recommend an electrician.
    It may be easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission, but it's likely to cost you in the long run if/when the landlord sees your alterations.

    The wiring itself shouldn't be too complex really. It doesn't sound like you're planning on redoing the switches or anything.
    You'd want to turn the circuit breaker off that feeds the lights, then pull the old fixtures.
    Black wire goes to black wire, white wire goes to white wire, ground goes to ground.

    But, like Michael said, it's not hard but if you screw it up the price of failure is going to be substantially higher than the cost of hiring an electrician.

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    The landlord is not going to agree to your changes. Maybe if you were renting from an actual person, but a company has rules in place for this stuff, and they've put wiring modifications in the NO column.

    Are you able to add floor/table lamps in the rooms in question? That might work better.

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    yea, don't waste your money on something like that if you don't own it. if you want to go smart, use a plug in something or another

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  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    So I always try to use a cost to put in vs cost to put back in when I move analysis when it comes to doing apartment installs. I also try to make sure everything is an upgrade, and everything I can return to the status quo.

    For example shelving. I will shelve up a closet, and when I do, I just make sure to match the shelves the apartment provided (usually wire shelving). Since it's an upgrade I don't have to remove them.

    The lighting in this, it is hard to sell them on the upgrade. Lighting fixtures are the easiest of electrical to do. I don't have a problem having a carpenter or general Handyman handle fixture change outs as long as it is a switch with like, and the breaker is off. Don't work on a hot line.

    So for the OP. It's time consuming and a gamble. If you get caught they could violate your lease. Also if you don't get caught you will have to keep the old fixtures, store them, and then reinstall them when you are ready to leave.

  • ASimPersonASimPerson Cold... ... and hard.Registered User regular
    The fluorescents probably have a ballast too, which makes them a huge pain in the ass (because you either have to get that out of the ceiling or wire around it somehow). I wanted to replace them in a place I own but I decided it wasn't worth the effort.

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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Never invest in a rental property. If you want to do cool things like this, buy your own.

    Think of it as borrowing your friend's car. If you borrowed their car for a weekend, and decided you wanted to get it repainted, or switch out a part in the engine, or remove the stereo they had for one that worked with your phone rather than the owner's outdated iPod, how pissed off do you think the friend would be when they got the car back?

    Were I your landlord and I "discoverd" you "got away" with changing the wiring in my house without my permission I would likely pursue you to the maximum degree the law would allow me.

    Smrtnikzepherin
  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    ASimPerson wrote: »
    The fluorescents probably have a ballast too, which makes them a huge pain in the ass (because you either have to get that out of the ceiling or wire around it somehow). I wanted to replace them in a place I own but I decided it wasn't worth the effort.

    and if its somewhat old, you can screw it up and rain burning pitch down onto yourself/carpet which almost happened in my basement.

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  • KarlKarl Registered User regular
    Talka wrote: »
    I’m trying to replace all the lighting in my home with color-changing Alexa-enabled smart lighting. I’ve replaced all the lighting that required straightforward lightbulb swaps. However, there are seven light fixtures in my home that don’t use standard light sockets. Three are hanging halogen bulbs with bi-pin connectors, two are circular fluorescent ceiling tubes, and two are overhead fluorescent bulbs.

    I’m pretty ignorant about lightbulbs and electrical wiring, so I probably described those incorrectly.

    Furthermore, I live in an apartment rental that’s professionally managed. It's a high-rise whose boilerplate lease prohibits alterations: “Unless authorized by statute or by us in writing, you must not perform any repairs, painting, wallpapering, carpeting, electrical changes, or otherwise alter our property.”

    So how do I proceed? Specifically:
    1. How risky is it for me to ignore my lease and proceed with these alterations? Friends I’ve talked to say they’ve ignored similar clauses in their own leases. But am I at risk of pissing off my landlord if they see the alterations? I’m fine making the alternations now and rewiring them again when I move out. But what if my landlord enters my apartment and sees the alterations? What actions could they takes against me, and how likely are they to do so? Will asking for permission hurt or help my cause?
    2. Is it even possible to rewire these fixtures? I’m clueless about how to proceed but suspect I could either a) figure it out from YouTube tutorials, or b) hire an electrician or handy-man to make the alterations for me. However, that assumes the alterations are possible in the first place. Is it safe to make these alterations? Are there fire concerns if the wiring isn’t intended for my use case?
    tl;dr: I’m clueless about electrical wiring and lightbulbs but want to replace fluorescent lighting and other non-standard bulbs with standard E26 and E12 light sockets. Should I rewire the fixtures, given that I live in an apartment rental and don’t know what I’m doing?

    Ask your landlord/landlord company

    They'll give you the green light or not.


    And even if they do, I would argue its not worth it. You're upgrading someone else's place. They won't pay you for this work and if something goes wrong you'll be liable to fix it.

    YOU'RE ALL BABIES.
    SO MUCH POTENTIAL TO WASTE.
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  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    Yeah, don't just do it. Maybe you do it and no issues, no one will notice, and you will get away with it without any issues.
    Or maybe they do an inspection, or someone doing random maintenance happens to notice and you get your deposit eaten, or even get slapped with a breach of your rental contract which could result in your lease being terminated.

    You can send a message to your rental office to ask, but it's pretty much going to be a given that they are almost certainly going to say no. But if they amazingly do say yes, they will most certainly not let you do it yourself and would want their own guys to do it, or proof that a licensed electrician would be doing it (for their insurance and liability).

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