Tenants refuse to be home for AC installation, expect me to be...

27 Replies

I rent a duplex to two groups of two tenants, so you`d think among the 4 of them, somebody could be home for a new AC unit to be installed.

When they first notified me of the problem, I asked them to check the breaker, make sure the thermostat was set correctly, check if the unit was coming on at all etc and to let me know their findings.

I heard nothing for ten days and figured it was working, but sure enough, when I contacted them to make sure, it wasn`t.

I made an appointment for a tech to come out the next day, but none of them were available and couldn`t agree on a day they`d be home until several days later.

When the tech came out, he got the AC working, but barely and it wasn`t worth fixing.

I told the tenants I`d have a new one put in ASAP and scheduled an estimate for the next day.

None of them could be home the next day, but I felt bad for them and their pets, so I offered to be there for the estimate.  

I then took the first available install appointment which was 3 days later.

I advised them of the appointment and told them somebody over the age of 18 had to be there for the duration of the install appointment.

So here we are, the night before the appointment, they contact me and tell me they thought they had someone to come over, but now they don`t and they feel it`s my responsibility as their landlord to take time off to be there so they don`t have to.

This seems ridiculous to me...if they were paying a bank to live there instead of me, they wouldn`t expect someone from the bank to come over to wait for repair people...surely I`m not obligated to do so...am I.  This is in Ontario Canada by the way.

Please excuse the odd punctuation...something up with the keyboard.

Thanks,

Rob

IMO... it is our responsibility as owners to make that happen, tenants should have a courtesy to help out with availabilities  when repairs are to be done (especially for their best interests). Tenants from upper and lower might not trust each other yet to let one wander in the other unit.

Keep in mind, for AC, it will be at least a 5 hours job that you would ask someone to be at home on a weeklday. 

Considering it is for a duplex I find it more challenging with the residents shift works, however, relationship eith tenants is key (that I have built over the years)...  I own and self manage 6 duplexes).

Solution:

- Keep building the relationship (pick your battles :)

- Property Management ($$$)

- Lock box for each property (to leave a spare key in), for contractors that you already trust. 

All the best Rob,

Antoniella

It doesn't seem ridiculous to me.  Your analogy on what would happen if they were "paying a bank" isn't really applicable.  They aren't paying a bank, they don't own it. 

The "responsibility" to facilitate the repair hinges on which party your lease says is responsible for the item in need of repair.  For my places, and it seems yours, the landlord is responsible for the HVAC (provided the tenant properly changes the filters).  In most cases, the tenant really wants the AC/heat working ASAP and will meet the technician.  

For my HVAC installs, I either schedule it ASAP when a tenant can be home, and if they can't then I offer to be present myself, but then it would be subject to my availability.  Your tenants don't seem all that concerned with getting it fixed.  So, in your situation, I'd figure out when it is convenient for me, and then schedule it then.  

Originally posted by @Rob K. :

I rent a duplex to two groups of two tenants, so you`d think among the 4 of them, somebody could be home for a new AC unit to be installed.

When they first notified me of the problem, I asked them to check the breaker, make sure the thermostat was set correctly, check if the unit was coming on at all etc and to let me know their findings.

I heard nothing for ten days and figured it was working, but sure enough, when I contacted them to make sure, it wasn`t.

I made an appointment for a tech to come out the next day, but none of them were available and couldn`t agree on a day they`d be home until several days later.

When the tech came out, he got the AC working, but barely and it wasn`t worth fixing.

I told the tenants I`d have a new one put in ASAP and scheduled an estimate for the next day.

None of them could be home the next day, but I felt bad for them and their pets, so I offered to be there for the estimate.  

I then took the first available install appointment which was 3 days later.

I advised them of the appointment and told them somebody over the age of 18 had to be there for the duration of the install appointment.

So here we are, the night before the appointment, they contact me and tell me they thought they had someone to come over, but now they don`t and they feel it`s my responsibility as their landlord to take time off to be there so they don`t have to.

This seems ridiculous to me...if they were paying a bank to live there instead of me, they wouldn`t expect someone from the bank to come over to wait for repair people...surely I`m not obligated to do so...am I.  This is in Ontario Canada by the way.

Please excuse the odd punctuation...something up with the keyboard.

Thanks,

Rob

I would put a combo lockbox outside, and would get in writing from the tenants that's its OK for the guy to come in and replace the AC.  Tell them to stash away any valuables.  Make sure the tech is insured and licensed.  Give him the code.  I hope you have a set of spare keys to put in the lockbox.  Problem solved. Neither you need to be there nor them.  Just like its unreasonable for them to expect you to be there, it's unreasonable for you to expect them to take off work, and be there just because the stupid AC is broken. 

I have done this 100s of times.. 

It would be nice if they were there, but clearly they don't care.  I wouldn't feel bad for them.  If it took them so long to get back to you each time, the AC is not important to them.

You now have the opportunity to inspect the place, plus talk to the installer about the AC unit, maintenance, etc.

Thanks for the replies all.  I do have programmable code locks on each unit, so in the event of an emergency they can be accessed without tenants or myself being there.  Unfortunately, the AC installer requires somebody over the age of 18 to be present.  Out of concern for their safety (and admittedly not knowing if I was legally obligated) I did agree to be there for the install.  It still seems unreasonable to me.  What if this were an out of state (province) property?

I have my tenants meet the repair people at their house.  I'm not sitting around in their house, especially while no one else is there.

But here's a question for you...what type of AC install is it?  I just had a AC unit replaced and the whole job took a little over half a day.  However, all but 20 minutes of it was done on the exterior of the home where the unit was located.  The tech just needed to come in during the last 20 minutes to swap out the thermostat with a new one, and confirm that everything functioned properly. 

I've had others replaced too, and usually most of the work is outside.  So I'd confirm with the installer if anyone really needs to spend the whole day there, or could perhaps just show up when access to the interior of the house is required. 

Originally posted by @Rob K. :

Thanks for the replies all.  I do have programmable code locks on each unit, so in the event of an emergency they can be accessed without tenants or myself being there.  Unfortunately, the AC installer requires somebody over the age of 18 to be present.  Out of concern for their safety (and admittedly not knowing if I was legally obligated) I did agree to be there for the install.  It still seems unreasonable to me.  What if this were an out of state (province) property?

 Canada even though we look at it as an extension of the US its is not its a foreign country.. so what anyone in the US thinks or says is not germane other than logic.

I know when I had my place in BC if I was gone more than a week INsruance mandated that I have a service come by the house throughout the winter to make sure no pipes burst etc.. other wise they wont honor the insurance..  little things like that .. we don't have in the US

hahaha. Guess they don't care too much about having AC. I have my HVAC guy and plumbing company schedule directly with tenants. It is their responsibility to make themselves available for techs to fix. If they can't do that they need to move to a large apartment complex where maintenance issues are handled with an on-site maintenance staff that just lets themselves in. I have 33 units I sure don't have time to run around and babysit every time a tech is needed for work.

If they were my tenants, they'd just have to live without AC until they could get somebody there for the AC guy. It is however, at least partly setting expectations. I do explain the process when they sign the lease. When they make a maintenance request that needs trouble shooting, that request is permission to enter and my regular maintenance guy will let himself in. I text them when he is on the way or the night before if they have pets that need to be penned up. I can't work around their schedule.

I see no reason why the tenant should be there for a capital improvement for your asset. If they are its a courtesy from them.

Will you compensate them for the time they take of work?

Besides don't you want to be around an activity that is likely costing you 4K?

If it was me (admittedly another country) I would place the responsibility on the owner to have someone there for the AC repair person. Either the owner or a person who represents the owner. The AC is a fixture being installed on the property. The technician will have questions "Hey it's only $13.00 to install this different thermostat that improves air quality and can save $9 a month in electricity, should I use that one?". "I noticed there is a bees nest in there, I don't mind killing them but you need to sign this saying I am not liable (hence the over 18)". "It looks like it's broken because someone was putting cigarettes out on the coil". 

The tenants are not denying access, they are saying "I won't be there". Normally it's the opposite "I don't want a repair guy in my house unless I am there". I would be glad not to have the tenants there.

Just my 2 cents and good luck

Originally posted by @Rob K. :

Thanks for the replies all.  I do have programmable code locks on each unit, so in the event of an emergency they can be accessed without tenants or myself being there.  Unfortunately, the AC installer requires somebody over the age of 18 to be present.  Out of concern for their safety (and admittedly not knowing if I was legally obligated) I did agree to be there for the install.  It still seems unreasonable to me.  What if this were an out of state (province) property?

 If it were an out-of-state property then if you couldn't be there you'd have the responsibility of having a property manager or some other responsible individual there to be available. HVAC is part of the hard systems of the house. Most of our tenants are cooperative in meeting with/letting in service people, but if they tell me they can't be there for something that's germane to the house and my problem (HVAC/Roof/structural plumbing/electrical/etc) then I make arrangements for someone else to be there. 

Thanks all...seems like there are good points on both sides.  At the very least, I'll need to confirm with the landlord tenant board of Ontario what is required and if I have options, ensure they're written into my leases going forward.

I generally put my tenants and tradespeople in touch with each other and they handle the scheduling amongst themselves. 

But for an AC install I would probably want to be there since it is a bigger job.

@Rob K.

Dude, it’s your responsibility. It’s that simple. Now, if they said they’d be there, and then they were not, then the service call could be their price to pay (that’s what is in my lease).

Why would you inquire to the LTB? Its not the tenanst asset its yours. What if something goes wrong while they are their doing your job? Than what? Will you go after them for that? You seem to be a pretty unreasonable landlord. They rent the property from you which includes working AC. The AC breaking has nothing to do with them, in fact given that it was part of the lease terms its your problem not theirs. Renting means not having to deal with **** like that. The person that profits takes care of those headaches

Yeah, one more vote for "that's the landlords job, because it is the landlords house"

Also, HVAC is a major component that could last 5-10-20 years, depending on quality of materials, proper installation and use. Improper installation can cause thousands in damage and void warranties. Seems like the type of improvement you should pay attention to.

@Robert Ganzhorn

I am in agreement and same line of thinking as Robert here. The tenant just wants the AC fixed, they don't have any equitable interest in your property. Other alternative is find a HVAC company with less stringent guidelines.

I agree with the original post. I find it ridiculous...however, I am in Florida. Our air went out (we rent right now) recently and it took our landlord two weeks to call someone to fix it! I figured out how to force it to run but obviously that’s not good for it. But that’s his problem and not mine. But it’s very much my problem if my kids and I do not have air (we homeschool so we are always in the house). Our landlord is out of the country so if I wasn’t here, they would have to get a friend to deal with it (they used to live here and had to relocate). Anyway, i have never had a landlord come over to deal with repairs in any place I’ve lived aside from the example someone else gave of living in a large apartment complex where they let themselves in. We are at this moment facing a new air system ourselves and i have no problem at all being here while it’s done, and even if my landlord was local, I would not expect him to deal with it. Heck, one landlord put in new kitchen cabinets on my watch and then got upset with me bc the idiot contractor tried to put in an island cabinet that had water damage (swollen particleboard) and I called him out. These tenants sound lazy and quite frankly I wouldn’t have done anything with the air until they could deal with it themselves. Not responding for ten days? Very odd, even though I know it’s not nearly as hot up there as it is here. By law even in Florida it’s not an emergency to lose your air so my hands are tied if my landlord doesn’t act. Maybe that’s how it is in Ontario, too, no idea.

IMHO, and being a control freak, as Owner of the property I would prefer to be there to supervise the install, make sure it was done properly and to my satisfaction, and make sure nothing was damaged or stolen. After all, the Owner is paying the bill.. But that's just me.

@Rob K. ,

Ah, the joys of self-managing!

Seriously, it's your property - it's yours to deal with.

Even if you had a property manager, they would likely want to charge you for having someone tied up all day.

My $0.02 ...

Originally posted by @Rob K. :

Thanks for the replies all.  I do have programmable code locks on each unit, so in the event of an emergency they can be accessed without tenants or myself being there.  Unfortunately, the AC installer requires somebody over the age of 18 to be present.  Out of concern for their safety (and admittedly not knowing if I was legally obligated) I did agree to be there for the install.  It still seems unreasonable to me.  What if this were an out of state (province) property?

Then you should hire a property manager to manage the property...they would then be required to be there.

Originally posted by @Rob K. :

Thanks all...seems like there are good points on both sides.  At the very least, I'll need to confirm with the landlord tenant board of Ontario what is required and if I have options, ensure they're written into my leases going forward.

Rob: 

The building is yours.  You rented the accommodations with AC, you are responsible for the maintenance and replacement of the AC ... after all it is your asset.

I am not sure how much interaction you have had with the LTB - or how many of their judgements you have read, but even in instances where one would expect the tenant to be responsible, the LTB has a record of coddling tenants like children and seldom holding them accountable for their behaviour.   In your instance, the LTB is simply going to remind you that it is your building and then they'll be looking over your shoulder to make certain you fix things in a timely manner for your tenants.

On another note:  Are you replacing the AC with another AC-only or with a heat pump?

Really?? Y'all go out there to hand-hold your HVAC guy? I have a great HVAC guy. What am I going to tell him how to do? If there are multiple options he'll text me and let me know... and I'm probably going to say pick the one you think is best. Perhaps it would be different if I didn't have a decades long work relationship with the guy...

 Do large property management companies send someone out to babysit when they call a sub to do a job with a tenant in place? Like those Institutional investors that run thousands of SFRs? 

The way I see it, it's my job to provide a contractor and pay for the fix in a timely manner, it's the tenants job to be home to protect their valuables while a contractor is there if they feel a need. My HVAC guy has my master key so he can get in but he still arranges with the tenant and they can choose a time and choose to be there or not.