RE: Tenant complains about not getting enought heat.

4 Replies

We purchased a 3 unit investment property less than a year ago.We are now running into some hurdles.Heater was not working beginning of spring so we decided to change to gas heating from oil heating. (It costed us $6k in oil the first 3 months of winter when we took over the property)The previous owner had the 1st tenant control the thermostat and had been spending over $10k in oil every year.Now, we installed NEST to control the temperature from our phone and have invested in changing the heat to gas.

The heater has been on since the temperature has dropped to 40degrees at night.We have set it to 73 degrees.This morning I get a call from my 1st floor tenant that the heater is not working that it is too cold.I contacted my 2nd and 3rd floor tenant and they say it seems cold but they use portable electrical heater in the room to keep them warm.

We are planning on renewing the lease and need to raise the rent. The 1st floor tenant has lived there for over 12 years and paying $800 for 1 bedroom APT.Previous owner never raised her rent.She was always on time with rent but since the time we took over, she asked for favor that she can pay her rent when her SS money gets deposited to her account.So it’s been late 5 days every month.

What is the best way to deal with this situation and what is the legal temperature that we need to keep during winter?

Updated over 1 year ago

Is electric baseboard heaters a good option to put in each unit? We do have separate electricity for each tenants.

As far as a legal temperature, each state is going to have different guidelines, suggest you look at Pennsylvania's tenant/landlord act.  Otherwise, you are embarking on a slippery slope when you negotiate practices with tenants. You need to establish reasonable guidelines and stick with them.  No need to be confrontational, just politely state the temperature will be set at X, if you prefer it warmer,  it is permitted to use portable heaters.  For what it's worth, if you're paying electric, it is likely cheaper to turn up the thermostat than to pay for plug in heaters.

Regarding your tenant that is paying when the SS check comes in, if you are going to allow that, consider it a change of terms and write a new lease with the agreed paid date. That will establish in writing what date the rent is late and what consequences may occur.  I suggest you do some reading here on BP regarding training your tenants.

You need to go to each unit during several different times during the day with a thermometer and record the temp in each unit. Check to make sure tenants are not blocking registers with furniture.

If the tenants are not blocking air flow, usually the problem, and the temp is below the thermostat setting by more than a couple of degrees call in a HVAC specialist to balance the system.

Never allow tenant to have space heaters, they cause too many fires.

Put all tenants on M2M and see how it goes for the rest of the winter.

Your state landlord tenant regulations will generally include info on temperatures.

If you agreed to let her pay late you are stuck with it otherwise tell her to pay on time or leave, raise her rent put her on M2M and if she leaves hope for a better tenant.

Agree with Greg.  Where you have multiple tenants on a common heater:

  1. remove tenant controls and YOU set the temp
  2. go to a zone control system for each unit.

The problem you face is HEAT and water are conditions for habitability and you don't want the city/count/state to get involved - - solve asap.

@Sarah Byun ,

It is boiler heat (baseboards and/or radiators)?

If so, your HVAC/mechanical contractor should be able to install thermostats and valves to control heat in each unit. You may even be able to record the stat activity and develop a technique to bill each tenant for their heat usage based on how long the heat is "on" in each unit.

Without more info, it's tough to guess.

No single tenant should control conditions in other units.

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