HVAC issue with tenants.

32 Replies

I have called a contractor out to fix the AC unit twice within the past month. I knew what the issue was but I didn't want to just blurt it out without any proof that they are turning the AC off when leaving the house. 

I have asked the first time and they said they never turned it off. I paid for the AC fix twice already. The 2nd time, the AC contractor told them the AC unit is working fine and not broken like they said. Their issue was that it wasn't coming on fast enough for them. They told the contractor that they turn it off when they leave the home to avoid paying high electric bill. Contract between me and them states they can't turn off AC unit but they can turn it to a temperature of their comfort. Contractor says they can leave the AC on low but can't turn it off, especially in 90+ degree weather.

I got a text today asking if I can pay half the electric bill otherwise they won't leave the AC on when they go to work. HVAC is a landlord responsibility in my state so if I already took care of it twice and the contractor told them the issue is that they keep turning it off, would I have to keep paying for the AC unit or can I tell them it's their responsibility to pay the contractor or pay all the electric bill? Contract states they pay electric bill. They've only been a tenant for 2 months.

@Yengkong Sayaovong

I would tell them I’m not paying half. Tell them to just set it as high as it will go when they leave for work. I don’t understand why it’s not coming on when they turn it on though. I do know a lot of people think that the lower you set it the faster it should cool and that’s not how an ac works

@Yengkong Sayaovong

If they are concerned about there bill, they should leave it on when they leave. By turning it off when they leave, they are expending more energy trying to bring the house back down to temperature, once they turn it back on. If they want to save money they should turn t-stat up 3-4 degrees when they leave.

Also a lot of t-stats have a delay when you turn on the ac. The delay protects the compressor from short cycling. On most tstats, the amount of time of the delay can be adjusted in the settings.

I would highly recommend having a company like American Home Shields. It is a home warranty program that pays for any broken appliances, with a service fee of $75. I have had it with my rental property in NC for as long as I can remember and it has been a life saver. 

@Yengkong Sayaovong ac is only suppose to change the temp 20 degrees at a time

I’m rather new and surprised it says you must keep it on all day. Unless their is something actually wrong with the AC, you owe them nothing.

Find out what the average bill is from other tenants or in the area. It will help when talking to them. If they pay the bill tho, imo, they should have control of whether it should be on or off. It sounds like they are new renters and it’s never a surprise when renters down know about systems and how they work, let alone the most basic maintenance of them, like changing filters

Turning off an AC unit won't stop it from working when it's turned back on. Not sure what information you're getting but I don't think it's accurate. I think the tenants just may not know how to operate the system or thermostat or something... Usually, people just turn up the temperature when they're going to leave for a while and turn it lower when they come home. But if they choose to turn it to the off position, it's not going to break anything on a properly working system.

An AC is not made to change the temperature 20 degrees at a time. Unless maybe its way oversized. The temp split across the return and supply is 20 degrees, but it is not going to drop your house temperature 20 degrees.

I would never install a programmable t-stat in a rental. We get so many nuances calls, bcuz people don't know how to operate programmable t-stats.

Our home AC recently broke. When it was fixed it took many hours to get the temp from 78 to 72. That is why they should only turn it up a few degrees and NOT turn it off.

Originally posted by @Yengkong Sayaovong :

I have called a contractor out to fix the AC unit twice within the past month. I knew what the issue was but I didn't want to just blurt it out without any proof that they are turning the AC off when leaving the house. 

So what is the issue exactly? It's a crappy designed a/c system which can't cool the house sufficiently?

a/c stalls when you turn it off?

@Yengkong Sayaovong

What sort of system do you have?

If it is controlled by a T-Stat, I recommend installing a Nest or Honeywell programmable thermostat. You can track all history, lock it at at certain temp and operate in economy mode when the unit is not occupied.

If you turn off the ac during the day and the temp rises significantly in the unit, when you turn it back on the unit has to work much longer and harder to remove excess heat. If they have a simple programable thermostat, they can set it for a couple degrees more during the day and when they get home the AC will only cool the house a few degrees. Much more efficient in the long run than trying to cool off 10-20degrees at a time.

The problem is that people today want everything instantly and you're not gonna cool an entire house to a comfortable temp instantly. especially when you turn it off all day long and it's 90 outside, 80 inside and you want it 68. It would take hours for it to reach temp.

@Yengkong Sayaovong unfortunately you have tenants who don’t understand basic thermodynamics. Let’s say I set my AC at 74, and during the hottest part of the day it’s 95. My AC runs as needed all day to maintain 74.

If I turn it off every morning it’s 74, and then I turn it on at night when it’s say 82 inside. The amount of energy required to lower the temperature from 82 to 74 is much much higher than to just maintain 74 all day long, so in actuality by doing what they’re doing they’re making their electric bill higher.

Originally posted by @Yengkong Sayaovong :

I have called a contractor out to fix the AC unit twice within the past month. I knew what the issue was but I didn't want to just blurt it out without any proof that they are turning the AC off when leaving the house. 

I have asked the first time and they said they never turned it off. I paid for the AC fix twice already. The 2nd time, the AC contractor told them the AC unit is working fine and not broken like they said. Their issue was that it wasn't coming on fast enough for them. They told the contractor that they turn it off when they leave the home to avoid paying high electric bill. Contract between me and them states they can't turn off AC unit but they can turn it to a temperature of their comfort. Contractor says they can leave the AC on low but can't turn it off, especially in 90+ degree weather.

I got a text today asking if I can pay half the electric bill otherwise they won't leave the AC on when they go to work. HVAC is a landlord responsibility in my state so if I already took care of it twice and the contractor told them the issue is that they keep turning it off, would I have to keep paying for the AC unit or can I tell them it's their responsibility to pay the contractor or pay all the electric bill? Contract states they pay electric bill. They've only been a tenant for 2 months.

Your job as a landlord is to provide habitable housing in exchange for rent. You've done this. You don't need to concern yourself with teaching these fools what it means to be an adult in America. They thought it was broken, you sent someone out and it turns out it isn't broken. You have no duty to pay their electric bill. I would explain this to them and then remind them that rent is due on the 1st and to have a nice day. 

You have a contract that says they can’t turn their AC off? Never heard of anything like that. I’m not even sure that would be enforceable, especially when they have to pay the electricity. I know I wouldn’t want to run the AC when I’m not home. What if they went away on vacation? They have to run the AC while they’re gone?

Anyway, if it were me, I’d stop trying to enforce this clause. Just explain to the tenants that the system is working fine according to the contractor and if it’s not running it may take longer to cool the house down. Then stop paying for the service visits (unless/until something is actually determined to be wrong with the system).

@Kyle J.

I put that clause in there because 50% of the tenant I had since 2010 had done this same thing. They turn off the AC when they leave then when they come home, they turn it back on and expect the home to be cold at that instant not understanding that it takes a little time for the home to get cool if they turn it off for 12+ hours.

@Caleb Heimsoth

You are correct on not shutting it off completely, it uses more energy trying to drop the temperature when they get home. The rough rule is do no change it more that 5 degrees. A example is if you like it 73 in the home do not set it higher than 78 when you leave. All system are not designed to drop the temperature home fast or it would be oversized for the home.

@Yengkong Sayaovong tell them they're responsible for paying for any repair requests that result in no issues being found. They're also responsible for paying the entire utility bill as agreed upon in the lease. Any violations of the lease will result in filing for eviction

Question on this theme: Does it make sense to turn central air off or raise the thermostat significantly when going away, such as for a week?  I get that the start/stop within 8 hours or so isn't efficient, but there seems like there is a break-even point at some duration.  I am thinking that is a 2-3 days of 90-degree temps.  Naturally, it depends on the temps.

I personally would shut off the a/c completely if I were away for a week.

Every time the room temp increases 1 degree, the a/c will lower that 1 degree. That's a waste if no one is home.

I would wait till evening and open all the windows and get some air flowing to lower temps. Then use a/c as needed.

In an insulated house, when outside is 100, inside can get up to high 80s. 

If you leave the thermostat at 78 all day, and temps rise 1 degree 20x during the day, and a/c kicks in 20x a day, are you really saving much compared to trying to lower from 88 to 78 in one go?

@Yengkong Sayaovong - I’m confused. Why are you sending an AC repair man again after the first time? If they turn off the AC and it’s not cooling the house down from 95 to 75 maybe they’ll understand they can’t expect the AC to work that fast. It sounds like they’re cheap but also want the world. I’d add an amendment to my next lease including some nuisance charge for calls when there’s no issue. Like $200 for you to send the AC repair guy when the exterior unit is on AND blowing cold air inside but they had it turned off during the day and it’s only dropping the temp 3-5 degrees per hour. (Tell them they can use vent tape up things to direct more cold air to their bedroom.) Or $$ if their toilet is clogged and they just needed to use a plunger. Or $$ if their light isn’t working and they need to change a light bulb. You have to train your tenants.

Pay 1/2 of the electric bill? LOL.  That's why I only use M2M agreements.  You can deal with misbehaving tenants immediately and the important thing is, they know it. 

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

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

Start here