Broken Fireplace- Would you fix it?

6 Replies

I have a gas fireplace in my rental property that is broken and the tenant wants it fixed, but would you fix it?

For me there's two issuses:

1) The cost of fixing the fireplace.

When I got the complaint about the fireplace, I sent my handyman to take care of it. But, its not a simple problem that the handyman could fix.

I'm afraid of pulling the thread, and promising to fix the fireplace and it then escalates into becoming a major cost to fix.

Does anybody know how much it'd cost to fix a gas fireplace?

2) Fixing the fireplace won't resolve the tenant's underlying complaint that its getting cold without a functioning fireplace.

A fixed fireplace won't generate that much heat to warm the rental because the fireplace was designed for only low volume natural gas. I consider the fireplace more as a decoration than a heating unit.

To heat the rental, there's already forced air. That should be enough because the rental is in Southern California near the beach; we're not talking about a rental in Michigan or Ohio. 

If it has a fireplace I would call around and find out what it would cost to get it fixed. You could replace it with an electric one starting at $500 + install. Or just get rid of the fireplace all together. It just depends on how much you're willing to spend.

If they're complaining about being cold there might be a different problem. Drafts coming from old windows, missing caulk around windows, or maybe low or no insulation in the exterior walls. I know my house used to be bad about this. Every time the wind blew you could feel a draft. The windows were so bad you could hardly open most of them. In the winter you could put your hand on the window and it was ice cold. We broke down and replaced all of the windows and it wasn't cheap ($7,000). We did see a $50 a month difference on our electric bill. No more draft and no more worrying about there being a fire and my family not being able to get out because they couldn't open a window. 

Your first priority is to have the heating system repaired so that it maintains the temperature in the unit without having to use the fire place.

If you do not want to maintain the fire place inform the tenant that you will allow him out of his lease. You can then remove the fire place before you replace the tenant and will no longer have the issue of maintaining it.

If he does not want to move you can then remove the fireplace.

first, get your heat looked at and get a qualified tech to confirm it is working, or fix it. you do not want tenant using a fireplace for heat.

second, if tenant rented unit with a working gas fireplace, you are likely obligated to fix it. especially in a tenant friendly area such as California.

third, I would seriously consider not leaving this in for subsequent tenants. what if they leave something to close and there is a fire? does your insurance company know you have a fireplace? I wonder if they will cover a fire claim if you have not disclosed this.

my only sincere recommendation is to perhaps replace with an electric fireplace that will not pose a safety risk.

First, I'd check with your insurance provider and see what having a working fireplace does for your insurance premium.  Second, if it exist, and you have a local property maintenance code and inspections, you'll have to fix it in order to be in compliance with the code--if it isn't working, it will be considered in disrepair.  The alternative is to remove the gas fireplace altogether.  If you don't remove it, and it isn't made operable, some cities will require the fireplace to be made inoperable by disconnecting the gas, covering the fireplace opening over and permanently closing off the chimney to avoid a tenant from using it for wood/trash burning.  Third, if the market you're in makes a gas fireplace a bonus, I'd pop for fixing it and making it safe to operate.

If I understand it correctly, I should fix the fireplace first and then shut it or close it down?

And, tell me more about these electric fireplaces. 

When you turn it on, how does it look? Realistic or totally fake? 

Do they break down, something that needs repaired a lot?

Who needs to look at the fireplace?

Is a HVAC technician the one to look for?

Or, do you need to go for NFI certification, National fireplace institute?

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here