outside external lights property management guideIf you have a gloomy and dark winter night at a property with issues brewing like break-ins and people tripping over, you’ll soon realise the importance of having the right lighting outside a property covering the external areas.

Or one day you suddenly get a surprise electricity bill for outside lights, or a deal-breaking problem with a property transaction with someone picking up re-charge issues. Again you will begin to understand how important such external lighting is.

Whilst inside ones such as corridors and live or work areas obviously need them, and in actual fact people may focus on them to get the right ambience look as well as basic functionality; outside ones simply don’t get the same limelight, if you excuse the pun.

Which is where these five issues to be aware of will be a great help. Coming from a property-management perspective and covering lots of different angles, these provide a good broad-brush approach of the sort of factors to look out for.

1. Emergency Lighting May Still Be Needed

Emergency lighting allows a light to still work when there is a power cut on the basis of a battery kicking in to power it. They often form part of the normal lights, or can be separate ones, typically over fire exits with maybe a green running man over it.

More importantly, they tend to mainly cover internal areas as the idea is to guide people outside the property to safety, although just watch out for scenarios where they are needed outside.

So maybe near exit points, or areas of protection and darkness, maybe even an archway or protected walkway.

And if you do need them then make sure you’re fitting them in the best possible way, for example knowing where test-points are and seeing if they need to be separate or part of a normal light fitting.

2. Get Shining Where Needed, and Stopped Where Not Needed

Of course this is obvious, but the detail so often missed.

So don’t forget any nooks and crannies, whether hidden areas like porches and alleyways, or separate outbuildings.

And on the other side of the coin, consider places where there shouldn’t be light shining and, for example, shields are needed to stop them glaring into people’s windows.

Oh, and on a related subject, remember that changing to LED bulbs can pay off easily with reduced repairs and electricity consumption.

3. How They Go On and Off

Again, this is another detail often missed, which could mean lights are on 24/7 unnecessarily, wasting electricity or never on at the right time at all.

One way is of course having a simple switch to operate, obviously with a power source although there are two better ways to automate this.

One is a timer that trigger them off and off at certain times, although you’ll need to remember these need to be adjusted when losing or gaining an hour every six months, and with changes in daylight hours over the summer and winter.

Another is through a sensor so that they detect ‘movement’ and come on. Now the more obvious way is when they sense physical movement, so when someone comes close to the sensor - although another is a day/night sensor when they detect when it goes dark or light and therefore go on or off.

4. The Testing & Maintenance

You’ll have reactive maintenance to plan for, such as bulb changes, although it’s probably still good to proactively manage this as they can be gone without someone spotting these and doing something about them.

Getting more proactive, you may need to carry out regular electrical testing, and make sure any unique issues like water ingress from being out in the elements are addressed.

To add the icing on the cake, also watch out for additional things like secured cables and even signage. It’s one thing agreeing that a new light needs fixing in such-and-such a place, however the biggest and more expensive challenge can be to arrange new cable access to it, which might mean a long way outside the property through conduits or even down in the ground to reach the correct electricity meter.

5. Who’s Responsible, and Making it Happen

A final point, although probably one of the first ones to consider, is who has to sort such lighting issues out.

So firstly, get to grips with any leases and property titles and agreements to bottom this out. Although it may appear in an obvious place, just watch out for careful demises and boundaries as to whose responsibility this is.

Plus, don’t forget the cables and electricity meters with them which may end up involving someone else.

And about the actual metering, check out where these are, and if any ancillary sub-meter arrangements and recharges can exist, all on the best electricity contract of course.

A classic example here is a series of external lampposts on an estate which can link into a whole different landowner that makes recharges a nightmare.

Shedding Light On the Outside

As you look at a property interest, don’t forget the issue of outside lighting here, or risk running into all kinds of issues later on from later bills, to accidents and damage.

It’s the sort of detail that can be easily missed off people’s radar, particularly with other interests just focusing on their part of the issue.

But a good property manager will go deeper and think outside the box, and once the issues are identified for that particular property they can delve deeper into each one as required with expertise such as an electrician to get them working, or a solicitor to get liabilities confirmed.

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