Stair Lighting Repairs
From 01 July 2016 Edinburgh Council will no longer maintain stair lighting in buildings where all properties are privately owned. This article is intended to provide information on maintaining and repairing stair lights in Edinburgh tenements from 01 July onwards.
Who is now responsible?
 
The legal responsibility to make sure the common stair lighting is in working order will rest with the owners of properties that the stair services.

To comply with this legal responsibility, all owners within a block must put in place repair and maintenance arrangements. This can be done by appointing a factor to take responsibility or by contacting an electrical company to carry out repairs as and when required.

CLICK HERE for more from the council website

What to do if there is a stair lighting fault?

If there is a Factoring agreement in place for the building then just ask the factor to attend to it. You will know if there is a factor in place as you will make a monthly payment to them.

If no factor is in place an electrician will need to be contacted to find and repair the fault.

What might the faults be?

There isn’t that much that can go wrong:
 
Bulbs reach the end of their life
  • In most instances a special screw driver is needed to access the bulbs of the types of lights used (Coughtrie is the brand most commonly used for the light units / bulbs)
  • Often if the bulb blows the fuse will too. So this may need replaced
Light units faulty
  • The units themselves are frequently repairable
  • New ones cost from around £60 + VAT each
Wiring fault
  • Unusual unless the wiring has been tampered with
Timer fault / sensors
  • The timer is usually in the stair well and often in a locked cupboard which requires a council supplied key to access.
  • Some stair lights may use motion or light sensors. Which, equally, can go wrong.
 
What does it cost?

HomeForce electricians charge £45 / hr + VAT, there is a minimum charge to cover one hour; parking and parts are charged for in addition.

When a fault occurs the first thing to be done is to diagnose the fault. Only then can a quote or estimate be provided to do the work and provide the parts to make a repair.

In the same way a mechanic is paid to diagnose a fault with a car or a doctor paid to diagnose a “fault” with a patient, an electrician will ask to be paid for their time diagnosing an electrical fault.

More often than not - in fact probably nine times out of ten - a fault would be found and repaired within an hour.

Who pays?

This can be a contentious issue. The law, as laid out in title deeds and in the Tenements Act, will say that the cost should be shared amongst all owners. Unfortunately getting all owners to pay or even just finding out who owns a particular property and how to contact them can be a laborious process. Even if all owners are known and are in contact getting agreement on how to proceed can be a difficult task.

Of course no electrician will want to undertake work unless they are assured that they will be paid promptly on completion. It’s unlikely any electrician would be willing to contact each owner individually to get their share of payment.

Unfairly the hassle factor and desire to avoid a dispute means that too often the payment of tradespeople to have communal repairs done falls on just a few owners within a block.

To find out who owns a property and where they live try:
-    Landlord Registration Scotland
-    Register of Scotland

Tips and Suggestions
  • Try to establish contact with your co- owners before the need arises to carry out a repair.
  • Set up a communal bank account and ask all owners to pay a small amount into it each month.
  • If all owners are agreeable, appoint a Factoring Agent. It gives great peace of mind and saves the burden of sorting things out falling on just a few people.
  • Know where the “controls” (Relay box, timer, fuses etc) for your stair lights are
  • Reassure an electrician that they will get fully paid promptly following satisfactory completion of the work.
To arrange for a fully qualified and experienced electrician to carry out stair light repairs contact HomeForce on 0131 315 0000 or email info@homeforcegroup.co.uk