Burst pipes - renters or landlords responsibility

9 Replies

hi folks,

Need some advise. I had new tenants who had moved in 3 weeks ago. They called me last night and said that the water pipes used for oil heating had burst. My handyman thinks that this is because the heat was not turned on. The tenants obviously disagree but there is no way to find out if they did actually had the heat turned on. 

My lease says that they should maintain the temperature at a minimum of 55 degrees, last night when I went there, the thermostat was set to 47 degrees.

Fixing this is going to cost me $1100. So my question is who should bear the cost of fixing this problem. Do I offer the tenants to pay half of the costs or just suck it up myself. 

Any advise will be very much appreciated.

thanks. Vikas

Tough one.  The thermostat being set low could be an indication that the heat was not on.  But it could also be that they set it down because they didn't want the boiler to be demanding water, because of the possibility of other burst pipes.  And even 47% is well above freezing.  And it wasn't even all that cold last night.  I suspect you're eating this one, unless you can get them to admit not having the heat on somehow.

I would pay for it unless you can prove it was the tenants fault! Just remind the my hat the heat needs to stay on . That any subsequent bursting will be thee fault if you wish to a "warning". Unfortunalty welcome to landlording

thanks @Richard C.  , @Elizabeth Colegrove - it does look like I'll have to eat this one up.

Sounds like you're stuck. Pipes don't just burst under normal use, they can leak. Your local weather says 31 with a low of 24 tonight. Sounds like they were gone and turned the heat off. Came home, turned it back up, noticed the leak, and turned it back down so it didn't kick on. Wild guess. Even then, with the heat all the way off, it'd take a day or two for the inside temps to drop to below freezing. Even though freezing is 32, generally pipes won't even burst unless its more near 20 degrees, and more importantly, over time. I wonder if they were gone for quite a few days.

If I had to take a guess, they were gone for a few days with the heat off. I mean, why else would it be off? Sure, perhaps turn it down 8 hours while at work, but not off. They probably just flicked it down (or off button) while walking out the door. But ya, how can you prove it.

This brings up an interesting thought I just had.  Has anyone considered getting the digital thermostats and having them set so they can't go below a minimum temp? Not sure if something like that even exists in that setup.

Originally posted by @William Baumann :

This brings up an interesting thought I just had.  Has anyone considered getting the digital thermostats and having them set so they can't go below a minimum temp? Not sure if something like that even exists in that setup.

 I bet someone does make something like that. A month ago we went on vacation and stayed at a condo, their thermostat was connected to their smart phone. But something cheaper/simpler. Bet someone does make a lockable thermostat where perhaps a password is required to turn it below a certain temp, or something.

This one will be tough on you, but as long as you don't have any proof on them you will have to pay for the burst pipes. Tell them that if something similar happens again you are not going to pay for it. Also this digital thermostat sounds like a cool idea. 

I believe they make landlord thermostats, I have never used them. I know someone that has them in a 4 unit building so he (the landlord) controls the temperature in all 4 units and the tenants can't change it. In this situation the landlord pays for heat due to only having 1 furnace.

Another thing, why not insulate your pipes, that could help against tenants who turn off the heat.

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