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Apartment building with several balconies lit up at night, with no people on them.
Not using it? Turn it off Outdoor lighting should only be used when it’s needed, and turned off when it’s not in use.

Renters don’t have as much flexibility as property owners to change their outdoor lighting, but there are still many things that you can do to make a difference! Here are some tips for what you can do.

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Apartment complexes


Keep indoor light indoors 

Close your blinds, shades, or curtains at night to keep any indoor light escaping into the outdoor environment to a minimum. 

Switch off any unnecessary lights 

Before turning on or leaving on any exterior lights, determine whether they are really needed by evaluating whether they have a clear purpose, such as wayfinding. Lights that are deemed unnecessary should be turned off. You should also consider the timing of your use of the lights — only use them during the hours when they are needed or helpful. For example, turn off all exterior lighting when you go to bed.

Use controls 

Use controls such as timers, dimmers, or motion detectors to ensure that light is available when it is needed, dimmed when possible, and turned off when not required.

Choose patio or balcony lights wisely 

For any light that is deemed useful and necessary, follow the Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting to minimize light pollution. By applying these principles, properly designed electric lighting at night can be beautiful, healthy, and functional. Any lighting project that incorporates these principles will save energy and money, reduce light pollution, and minimize wildlife disruption. Additionally, be sure to look for the DarkSky Approved logo on any new or replacement fixtures to ensure that they will reduce light pollution.

Change (or remove) the bulb

Switch out any cool colored lights to limit the amount of light and short-wavelength (blue-violet) light to the least amount needed by opting for warmer lights where possible. Also, be sure to use the lowest light level required to avoid over-lighting. Keep in mind that some surfaces may reflect light upward, so you may need less than you think.

Get involved as an advocate in your community

DarkSky’s Advocates Network is a global community united in its efforts to protect the night from light pollution. Getting involved in your community as an advocate is a great way to encourage change where you live and learn from other people who may have encountered similar situations. There also may be chapters and delegates near you to connect with.

Identify whether your community has an outdoor lighting ordinance

Beyond fixing the lighting around your rental property, you can work to get an outdoor lighting ordinance adopted in your community. Outdoor lighting ordinances or codes are an excellent tool for ensuring that municipalities implement good, safe outdoor lighting. Here are some tips on finding out if your community has a lighting ordinance.

Advocate for an outdoor lighting ordinance

If your community does not have a lighting ordinance, you can advocate for one! It may be lengthy, but we can help you navigate the process with these tips

Speak to your landlord about the issue

While it may seem intimidating, the solution may be as simple as talking with your landlord about the issue. You may be surprised at how willing they are to work with you to reduce light pollution at your rental property. This is especially true for those in apartment complexes, where landlords may be especially interested in the energy and cost savings associated with minimizing light pollution. Give them a copy of our brochure to help them get started.

Apartment complexes

Form a committee 

There is strength in numbers, and other tenants in your building or complex may have the same concerns about the exterior lighting. Talk with your fellow tenants about your concerns and learn about theirs. Then you can create a unified and clear message for your superintendent or landlord about what you want to do about the outdoor lighting.

Meet with your building super or landlord 

Approach your building superintendent or landlord with professionalism and care. If you have other tenants with you, try not to ambush them. Ask to establish a time to discuss the outdoor lighting issues in your community, and invite them to do a walk of the property to point out specific fixtures that are especially problematic. Chances are, they are unaware of these issues and will be open to improving their property to attract future tenants.

Provide them with facts and stats  

As stated above, it’s best to approach your building superintendent or landlord respectfully and professionally. This is their place of business, and you are their customer. So, voice your concerns in a way that will be received well, and make sure you do your homework. Because this is their livelihood, they will likely care about the bottom line, so begin with how responsible outdoor lighting leads to cost savings in addition to reducing harm to humans and wildlife.  Give them our brochures on Energy and Wildlife to help them get started.

Suggest a plan  

Once you have discussed the benefits of responsible outdoor lighting, it is a good idea to have suggested action items for your super or landlord. The Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting is a great starting point, as updating any fixtures using all five principles holistically will yield results that everyone will appreciate. You can also recommend that they check out the DarkSky Approved database to find DarkSky Approved lighting fixtures.

From Roy Alexander in the U.K.:

“I just spoke to my landlord and asked about what lighting I could change, and luckily I have a decent landlord who said, ‘do what you want, it’s your home now.’ Not all landlords will be as cooperative, but I think having a polite, friendly conversation is a good idea. Also, in the U.K. you can pretty much do anything to a rented property if you put it back the way you found it when you moved in.”

Roy highlights an important fact: Laws and regulations will vary from location to location around the world regarding renters’ rights and obligations. It’s best to reach out to your local DarkSky chapter to see whether Advocates in your region have guidance about local laws.