Section 8 Tenant keeping A/C on 50 degrees

12 Replies

Hi All,

Today I was at a rental property replacing the water main shut off valves (both sides of the water meter) in the basement.  One of the old gate valves didn't work at all and the other wasn't far behind it so both were replaced.  I also replaced the HVAC filter while there.  In order to do so I had to turn off the ac unit at the thermostat which is where I was STUNNED to see it was set on 50 degrees.  This is the lowest the digital thermostat will go.  The central air unit/coil was newly installed a few months before I bought the place so I'm not expecting/planning any capital expenditures on the unit.  I'm aware of how bad this is and wanted some folks opinions on how to handle.  Granted the electric is in the tenants name but I'm more concerned with the life span of my systems.  What should/can I do????  Programmable thermostat where I can lock it to not go below or above a certain temp?  Anything else/different?

I've already spoken with the tenant and let her know not to turn it below 70 because the unit can't get the house cooler then that.  When it was set at 50, the inside temp was still at 69....  

Has anyone had to deal with something like this?  


I would do one of 2 things.

1. Have tenant pay for all utilities. Install seperate meter if necessary. 

2. Install a new thermostat that allows you to program and add limits high/low and lock it out with a code to prevent this problem.

It's ignorance and it drives me insane. If I set it to 68 and I'm still hot, I can set it to 50 for EXTRA COOLING! In a commercial setting this is why we lock down our T-Stats. Someone will come in at 5 AM for work and say it's cold, so they set it to 80 thinking it will warm up fast.

Ignorance, and completely maddening.

Not sure what you can do to your tenant. Mix in medical conditions that require medicines like blood thinners (My grandfather had the heat set to 80 when he was on them) and your even more screwed I think.

I know on my Nest T-Stats at home, I can set a schedule based on the hour. I did this so I can offset my wife constantly messing with them. It doesn't help stop her turning the dial but it does reset back to what I set at the top of the next hour. She's not caught on yet, that might buy you some time.

Otherwise, I would suggest a great HVAC maintenance plan. Maybe you can of it.

Great post, hadn't thought of that one...but I'm sure it's just because I haven't caught anyone YET.

@John Underwood The electric is in the tenants name already.  I'm concerned with the life span of my unit.  Installation of a new thermostat unit looks to be my best/only real option.  I did hear from an HVAC guy to watch out for the ones that are BLUETOOTH enabled, although they are convenient, apparently in a case where there's a storm and power shuts off, it tends to scramble the Thermostat unit....

Account Closed Incredible right.... Programmable Thermostat it is.  

Thanks for the responses guys. 


I would move out of a place if they wouldn't let me set it below 70.  I am fine with it even as high as 78 during the day, but I want it colder at night, low 60's.  Then in the winter, I never turn it higher than 65.  

68-72 is considered a reasonable range for the actual temperature in a commercial setting. There has to be a TStat out there that you can set the range of the hot and cold. Like 65-75.

Chicago temperature control landlord stat has a min and max temperature they can set. The ones we use for heat allow 72 for 2 hours and they reset down, not sure if there is a similiar AC setting. No wifi , looks like a regular thermostat, no programmming for ours. Simple fix. Can they circumvent it ? Maybe? but I dont want to be checking thier thermostat every day.

@Joshua Maisel if your AC is running continuously and will not cool to below 69 degrees, there is something wrong with your AC. It is either sized wrong or there are circulation issues. I am saying this because with the thermostat set to 50, it will only cool to 69 degrees so the thermostat setting isn't the issue here. Even if you tried to set it to 70 degrees, the AC will run almost continuously, which is not normal.

Just FYI - Our temperatures here in SC can regularly exceed 90 degrees ... our HVAC guy states that properly sized HVAC units are geared to drop the temp about 20 degrees below what it is outside.  If the tenant drops the temperature lower than that - well they are just spending more on electricity, putting additional wear and tear on the unit, and risking freezing up the unit and then not having AC at all for awhile.  Some tenants get that and others have to test the theory ... experience it and then they get it.

Good luck!

Someone already said this, but the biggest concern is that it's set to 50 and only cooling to 69 degrees. Sounds like you already have an issue with your unit. It was probably set so low because it wasn't cooling properly when properly set. I would get your AC looked at! 

It should go below 69. I live in SC also. Now it will never get it to 50, but I leave my upstaiors office set on 65 - I like it cool. Its 65 in here today and it isnt runnign constantly. YMMV of course.