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Timothy Burns
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Tenant Refusing to Turn Heat On During Cold Weather

Timothy Burns
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  • Investor
Posted Dec 18 2023, 23:56

I am nearing the end of a lease with my current tenant, set to expire January 31, tenant has become very angry and vindictive. 

Gave 60 days notice that we will not be renewing the lease. 

This is my first duplex that I am living in, and tenant continues to turn heat completely off while temps are at/near freezing. 

Lawyer advised this could be considered an emergency situation so I "could" enter without notice. 

Either way, tenant is continuing to leave heat off and has said they will not be moving anything out until the 31st of Jan.  

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JD Martin
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JD Martin
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ModeratorReplied Jan 1 2024, 20:26
Quote from @Timothy Burns:
Quote from @Dana Briscoe:

I didn't read every post but was a smart thermostat recommended? One that you, yourself can set and control at any time from your phone?


 somebody mentioned a thermostat I could control but didn't say what kind. 

I don't currently have one of those, the one installed in the tenant's unit can't be reset by them once I install It? 


 Not sure about others but with Google Nest I'm almost 100% certain there's no way they can override the settings/setup without having either the password or access to the smartphone app. They could take it off the wall, which would prevent the system from starting at all, but they wouldn't be able to alter the temperatures or other settings.

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John Warren
  • Real Estate Broker
  • 1658 N. Milwaukee Ave Ste B PMP 18969 Chicago, IL 60647
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John Warren
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Replied Jan 2 2024, 04:26

@Timothy Burns with the thermostat being in the tenants unit, figure out how to move it. You can use the same thermostat. Track the wire to your furnace, and then run that wire into your unit. Problem solved. 

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Lynn McGeein
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Lynn McGeein
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Replied Jan 2 2024, 05:05

Make sure going forward all leases have a clause about requirement to maintain minimum temperature even if absent -- mine is 58 degrees and has a initial block next to it so they can't say they weren't aware of the term. May not help much realistically but does make it a lease violation. I knew an investor where his duplex tenant let pipes burst, and he did get a significant judgment for damages after several months but never got paid because tenant just left the state. I had property management once tell me they couldn't do anything because the tenant hadn't given notice yet and still had some property inside when they posted pay or quit, but the power company had told me the heat had been turned off when I called to check (apparently landlord utility revert doesn't work properly if tenant just doesn't pay).  I drove in from out of state, entered myself and had the heat turned on in my name as an emergency. It's not worth the damage it can cause, even if I got stuck with the heat bill until resolved. 

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Timothy Burns
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Timothy Burns
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Replied Jan 2 2024, 18:41
Quote from @Lynn McGeein:

Make sure going forward all leases have a clause about requirement to maintain minimum temperature even if absent -- mine is 58 degrees and has a initial block next to it so they can't say they weren't aware of the term. May not help much realistically but does make it a lease violation. I knew an investor where his duplex tenant let pipes burst, and he did get a significant judgment for damages after several months but never got paid because tenant just left the state. I had property management once tell me they couldn't do anything because the tenant hadn't given notice yet and still had some property inside when they posted pay or quit, but the power company had told me the heat had been turned off when I called to check (apparently landlord utility revert doesn't work properly if tenant just doesn't pay).  I drove in from out of state, entered myself and had the heat turned on in my name as an emergency. It's not worth the damage it can cause, even if I got stuck with the heat bill until resolved. 


 Absolutely. 

I learned alot from this one and have heavily modified the lease. 

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Lisa Hammond
  • Real Estate Professional
  • Newton, KS
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Lisa Hammond
  • Real Estate Professional
  • Newton, KS
Replied Jan 3 2024, 10:01

As much as it sucks for owners, PMs, and other tenants, just because we are LL does NOT mean we can suddenly magically control other people's behavior and get them to do something. I love it when tenant scall and tell me to MAKE the neighbor turn down the music. I always ask, "What exactly do you think I can do other than what you did, ask them to turn it down?" They always respond with, "MAKE them!" But have no answer for how to do that. LOL All we can do is make them aware of the consequences. Can you force her to turn the heat on? No. But you can notify her that she's responsible for all damages caused by freezing/burst pipes. Make dang sure your insurance policy will cover it and ensure that you're protected. There's nothing more you can do at this point other than follow the steps for eviction. 

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Melanie Thomas
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Melanie Thomas
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Replied Jan 4 2024, 12:14

@Timothy Burns great work on this! 

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Replied Jan 4 2024, 18:04
Quote from @Timothy Burns:
Quote from @Dana Briscoe:

I didn't read every post but was a smart thermostat recommended? One that you, yourself can set and control at any time from your phone?


 and are they expensive? 

Sensi Touch 2 Smart Thermostat with Touchscreen Color Display, Programmable, Wi-Fi, Data Privacy, Mobile App, Easy DIY, Works with Alexa, Energy Star Certified, ST76, C-Wire Required, New for 2023

167300+ bought in past month$156.62$156.62 List: $209.99$209.99FREE delivery Tue, Jan 9Or fastest delivery Sat, Jan 6Works with AlexaI just looked up lockable smart thermostat.

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Timothy Burns
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Timothy Burns
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Replied Feb 12 2024, 03:24
Quote from @Lynn McGeein:

Make sure going forward all leases have a clause about requirement to maintain minimum temperature even if absent -- mine is 58 degrees and has a initial block next to it so they can't say they weren't aware of the term. May not help much realistically but does make it a lease violation. I knew an investor where his duplex tenant let pipes burst, and he did get a significant judgment for damages after several months but never got paid because tenant just left the state. I had property management once tell me they couldn't do anything because the tenant hadn't given notice yet and still had some property inside when they posted pay or quit, but the power company had told me the heat had been turned off when I called to check (apparently landlord utility revert doesn't work properly if tenant just doesn't pay).  I drove in from out of state, entered myself and had the heat turned on in my name as an emergency. It's not worth the damage it can cause, even if I got stuck with the heat bill until resolved. 


 How do you word it? 

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Lynn McGeein
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Lynn McGeein
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Replied Feb 12 2024, 07:39
Quote from @Timothy Burns:
Quote from @Lynn McGeein:

Make sure going forward all leases have a clause about requirement to maintain minimum temperature even if absent -- mine is 58 degrees and has a initial block next to it so they can't say they weren't aware of the term. May not help much realistically but does make it a lease violation... How do you word it? 

Mine just says, Tenant agrees to maintain indoor temperature of unit at no less than 58 degrees during the entire period of outdoor cold weather, including during Tenant absences of any length. It also states no fuel-operated space heaters and that fireplace is never to be used as a heat source.

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Daria B.
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Daria B.
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Replied Feb 26 2024, 09:10
Quote from @Dana Briscoe:
Quote from @Timothy Burns:
Quote from @Dana Briscoe:

I didn't read every post but was a smart thermostat recommended? One that you, yourself can set and control at any time from your phone?


 and are they expensive? 

Sensi Touch 2 Smart Thermostat with Touchscreen Color Display, Programmable, Wi-Fi, Data Privacy, Mobile App, Easy DIY, Works with Alexa, Energy Star Certified, ST76, C-Wire Required, New for 2023

167300+ bought in past month$156.62$156.62 List: $209.99$209.99FREE delivery Tue, Jan 9Or fastest delivery Sat, Jan 6Works with AlexaI just looked up lockable smart thermostat.


This is a nice feature but I wonder how could this be used in a rental when it requires wifi? It would require using the tenants wifi if that were possible and not likely something one would want to do.

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Timothy Burns
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Timothy Burns
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Replied Feb 26 2024, 19:40
Quote from @Lynn McGeein:
Quote from @Timothy Burns:
Quote from @Lynn McGeein:

Make sure going forward all leases have a clause about requirement to maintain minimum temperature even if absent -- mine is 58 degrees and has a initial block next to it so they can't say they weren't aware of the term. May not help much realistically but does make it a lease violation... How do you word it? 

Mine just says, Tenant agrees to maintain indoor temperature of unit at no less than 58 degrees during the entire period of outdoor cold weather, including during Tenant absences of any length. It also states no fuel-operated space heaters and that fireplace is never to be used as a heat source.


 As a result of all of this, I heavily modified my lease, and part of my app process is before you turn in an app I send you a blank copy of my lease to read and review and I add a question in the app that states that you agree that you have read and understand the lease.