Duplex with shared gas and owner pays

4 Replies

I am looking at a duplex where tenants share one furnace and one hot water heater, thereby the owner pays for the gas. I am thinking about buying it, but I don't want to get stuck with the gas bill. So I am thinking about purchasing electric baseboard heaters for one of the apartments and disconnecting the heating ducts to that apartment. I will then need to get another hot water heater for that apartment and make that electric too. That way one tenant pays the gas bill. While the other has been completely converted over to electric.

Has anyone else ever been in this spot and if so how did you handle it?


Check with whatever agency you need to check with, to determine if the building CAN be used as a duplex. My daughter and her husband bought a duplex--advertised and used as a duplex, owned by a realtor who used it as a duplex and was selling it as such. It was pre-inspected prior to listing (a requirement) and they had it inspected as well, and they planned to use it as a duplex.
When THEY went to sell it a few years later, on their inspection, it turned up it could NOT be used as a duplex, because of one furnace and water heater, and nothing had changed. I'm guessing the other owner greased a few palms. DD and SIL got a lawyer, their agent was angry, and they did get a settlement, but gee whiz, what a problem.
DO make sure, esp with one furnace and one water heater, it CAN be used as a duplex. Maybe make that anonymous call about such a critter, and ask if a house with one furnace/heater can be used as a duplex...

Just check your county/city codes dept. to see if the place ever got an occupancy permit to be used a duplex. If it was built as a duplex, the original occupancy permit would reflect that. If it ever was a SFH and got switched over to a duplex, then the owners had to get a new occupancy permit. If they didn't then it isn't a legal duplex. [I realize this doesn't answer the original question, but I thought I'd at least offer this since I've seen people get stuck with illegal duplexes before.]

Well, TC, it sounds like you have a sound idea. You can get 110V baseboard heaters so they're fairly easy to install. The hot water heater will be 220V, so you will want to make sure you have an updated panel and have the room in the panel or at least have the budget to update it. You will obviously have some plumbing work to have taken care of also.

Who was paying for the electric to run the furnace? Unless there were three electric meters one of the tenants were paying for the electricity to run the furnace which heated both sides of the building. You can get in trouble for that in my area. I am making a laundry room common with a w/d hookup for both units and because it's between the units and I have to install two lights and put a switch in each unit so one tenant doesn't pay for the lights in the common area, they both have to operate their respective light form their unit.

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