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Heat (by Sadie [NH]) Feb 5, 2014 10:49 AM
       Heat (by Dan [MA]) Feb 5, 2014 11:03 AM
       Heat (by John... [MI]) Feb 5, 2014 11:10 AM
       Heat (by Sadie [NH]) Feb 5, 2014 11:11 AM
       Heat (by Sadie [NH]) Feb 5, 2014 11:17 AM
       Heat (by cjo'h [CT]) Feb 5, 2014 1:35 PM
       Heat (by Bruce [MO]) Feb 5, 2014 3:00 PM
       Heat (by elliot [RI]) Feb 5, 2014 4:47 PM
       Heat (by Robert,Ontario,Can [ON]) Feb 5, 2014 4:53 PM
       Heat (by BillS [CO]) Feb 5, 2014 5:23 PM
       Heat (by AllyM [NJ]) Feb 5, 2014 7:04 PM
       Heat (by Cat [WI]) Feb 5, 2014 10:10 PM
       Heat (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Feb 5, 2014 10:36 PM
       Heat (by Dan [MA]) Feb 6, 2014 5:32 AM

Heat (by Sadie [NH]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 10:49 AM

State Specific Question About: NEW HAMPSHIRE (NH)

I have a tenant who has been complaining about heat. Heat is included in the rent. She is on the 3rd floor of our building which is forced hot air. Her apartment is a 2 room studio and is the old attic that someone converted to an apartment prior to us owning the building. Every time she complains I check with the other tenants to see if they are having heat issues, have her check her vents, and check that nothing is covering her vents. No other tenants are complaining. We had a new roof put on a year or so ago, the furnace was recently cleaned and a new filter was put in, we even went and wrapped her windows as a precaution. Every time she complains that it is below 65 degrees we respond immediately either by heading to the apartment, checking the thermostat (which is in the first floor apartment), or trying to trouble shoot over the phone. Every time we have gone to the apartment it has been at 65 degrees or above. We have the thermostat set in a locked box ad on a timer. It goes up to 68 in the morning and down to 65 during the day when most people are at work, back up to 68 for after work hours and the down to 67 for the overnight. Recently we bought her a base board plug-in heater which has overheating shut off and tip-over safety.

Yesterday I received a letter form the health office of the town that she had written a formal complaint ad they went and inspected. it was 63 degrees when they went. Now she is texting me asking, "How much of my heat is allocated in my rent each month?" Last night, after I got the letter email from the health dept, I went to the building and set the thermostat to be at 68 degrees permanently. I also emailed the officer back immediately ad also called and left him a message today. He has not called back. I addition, I emailed him again. I have texted her today to find out how the heat is and she won't answer. Instead she is insisting that I answer her question about allocation of heat in the rent.

What do I do? What do I not do? --66.30.xxx.xx

Heat (by Dan [MA]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 11:03 AM

Setting a thermostat on the 1st floor has no guarantee what the 3rd floor temperature will be. I once had a four floor building with one thermostat and it was impossible to get the heat even in all the apartments. Ultimately, we replaced the single heating system with separate systems for every apartment (which saved us money because we no longer paid for their heat).

I don't know what the law requires in NH, but putting myself in the tenants shoes, I would be pretty upset if my rent included heat and it was only 65 degrees during the day. With the cold weather we've had this winter, I've routinely had to turn up my home thermostat to 71 or even 72 to keep my home comfortable.

Long term you need a system where the tenant control (and pay for) their own heat. In the short term, you need to comply with NH laws and whatever the health office wants done. --64.197.xx.xx

Heat (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 11:10 AM

What you set the thermostat to on the 1st floor doesn't matter if the 3rd floor unit is below 65. So, the complaint seems valid to me -- regardless of where you had the thermostat set, they measured the temp in her place and it was 63. Therefore, in my opinion, she has a completely valid complaint.

On a side note, she is likely asking how much is allocated to her heat because she plans to stop paying that amount and maybe escrowing it -- depending on what your state law allows. To be honest, since temp is considered a habitability issue, she very well may have the legal right to escrow the entire rent until it is corrected -- but I don't know NH law.

As for what to do... Well, you need to get her unit up to reasonable heat levels somehow. You could call an HVAC place and explain the issue and see if they can adjust the furnace to work better for her.

If that is not possible, then some other solution is needed, of course. I don't know about the plug-in heater -- I don't know if your state would allow it for a long-term solution.

When they measured 63 -- was it during the day when it was set to 65? Or at 68 in the evening? If it was set at 65F when they measured 63F, then maybe setting it to 68 all the time is a solution that will work. (If it were my own place, and it only got up to 65F all the time, I'd actually be pretty miffed about it -- but whatever the minimum required by law is your real issue here.)

All that being said -- as to what to do right now... I would only do everything IN WRITING from this point on. I would send a letter stating that the heating issue has been resolved to the best of your knowledge and to please let you know immediately should the temperature drop below the state minimum again.

I'd have to think about it more -- so maybe someone else can comment -- but as to her question, I would either ignore it -- or I would include a paragraph stating that you do not have a specific amount allocated for heat since it varies significantly each month. I do not believe that you have an obligation to provide that information.

- John...


Heat (by Sadie [NH]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 11:11 AM

NH law is 65 degrees and I only drop it during the day bc people are at work. No one in the building has ever complained about heat before and people who have lived in this tiny apartment have always said it's so warm in the winter (heat rising, I assume). The rent on this unit is super cheap and I only started putting the thermostat on a timer bc the heating bill got so high in previous yrs.

Do you know anything about requesting allocation of the rent? I always try to be so "by the book" with everything. --66.30.xxx.xx

Heat (by Sadie [NH]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 11:17 AM

Thanks John and Dan! I really appreciate your help. Every other landlord I have contacted has said the same thing about answering her question - ignore it.

They took the temp in the morning, after the timer had gone from 68 to 65 on first floor. It's such a bummer bc she has complained about other things in the past that have always turned out to be nothing. So, when we would go over and her hear was never below the regulated temp, it kind of seemed like it was another false complaint. --66.30.xxx.xx

Heat (by cjo'h [CT]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 1:35 PM

Sadie,Is there any way you could put an electric meter for the 3rd floor.and a circuit breaker box in that unit,then put electric baseboard in each room and she can control her own heat and also pay for it.The service coming into the building may not be large enough,but it's worth a looking into ,put an end to her whining.Sorry I can't be of more help. Charlie.... --70.215.x.xxx

Heat (by Bruce [MO]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 3:00 PM

You could try letting the furnace blower run constant to keep the air circulating. Try a temperature recorder in the apartment to see what is really happening, then go from there. --99.20.xx.xxx

Heat (by elliot [RI]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 4:47 PM

If you have a separate control for that unit, then it is not your fault. I have one of those fancy NEST thermostat that is consistent 3 degrees off. Nest tech support said it is normal to be off couple degrees (comparing to a infrared gun and a thermometer)

Like someone else said, just turn it up higher and let the problem go away. As long as you are sincere, how much is heat allocated is irreverent. You can whip out a number if that makes her feel better.

For example, if rent is $500, give her a number that is market rent without heat. say $450.. then she will realize that she got a good deal --75.67.x.xxx

Heat (by Robert,Ontario,Can [ON]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 4:53 PM

The best solution is put in a wall mounted high efficiency gas boiler in the rental unit along baseboard radiators then separate out the heat so the tenant controls and pays for the heat. If they want more heat then they can turn up the thermostat no more complaint or problems. Once they get the first gas bill then they will probably turn down the heat. Have one apartment building where the heat is included in the rent where the indoor temperature must be a constant 21 degrees Celsius or 70 F imperial regardless how cold it is outside. Some want to walk around in tee shirts and shorts when it is extremely cold outside. If had the funds would put in a wall mounted boiler in each rental unit then let them pay and control the heat. The newer apartment buildings the tenants pay and control the heat where some complain about the high utility bills. --74.220.xxx.xxx

Heat (by BillS [CO]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 5:23 PM

Sadie - check the return as well as the registers. Not sure how the heat is laid out but in some older homes they just cut the doors off along the bottom because it draws the cold air off the floor for the return. There maybe only one or at the most two returns centrally located in the halls of the main floor. If she was cold and concerned about drafts she may be putting a towel or something along the bottom of the door cutting off all return. The heat blowing into the space has nowhere to go so not as much hot air moves into the unit keeping it cool. --75.160.xxx.xxx

Heat (by AllyM [NJ]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 7:04 PM

I lived on a third floor in Revere, MA, down by Shirley Ave., back in the late 60s and it was awful cold up there. For some reason, the heat never got to my floor except maybe a chilly 60.

I asked the landlord several times to give me some heat and nothing happened so I left. I had very little and just threw it in my VW and went to stay with friends whose daughter had just married and moved out. The heat in that apt. was steam and I guess the rads were full of air, water or rust up there and the LL was too dumb to change the steam vents on the rads for wide open ones to allow the steam to make it to the third floor.

I think your building may be poorly insulated and the ducts are too near the walls and cold air is seeping in and chilling them so there can't possibly heat to the third floor at the temperatures you are setting.

I have been in New Hampsha and it's just as bitter there as in MA. You would need to crank up the heat to the mid to higher seventies to heat that third floor.

Olde Miss Ally


Heat (by Cat [WI]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 10:10 PM

A few things to consider.

You said that you had a new roof put on. Was the attic insulated at the same time. If not, a lot of heat may be going out through the roof.

From my experience, areas the farthest from the heat source, get lukewarm air at best. This is true of my own home. It is a one level ranch house but the bedrooms are way at the opposite end of the furnace. By the time the heat gets back there, it is not very warm, so the bedrooms are always about 4-5 degrees colder than what the thermostat is set on.

I am amazed at how many tenants think a cold air vent is for heat and claim that no heat is blowing out. Sometimes they actually block the heat registers with furniture (or have them shut).

Sometimes it may help if other tenants, especially those who get too warm, to partial shut down their registers so more goes to other apartments.

Another thing that you may consider, is having a gas wall furnace installed in her apartment and reducing her rent a little ($50 month ??) to have her pay her own heat.

I would not continue to turn it up and down. 65 is too cold. I would turn it up to 68 and leave it, until the weather warms up. In Wisconsin we need to maintain at least 67, so my thermostats are on 68 during the winter and sometimes up to 70-72 during way below zero weather.

One last thing. I actually went through this issue recently in a 3 unit. A former tenant lived in a lower 1 bedroom for 2 years and after he moved out (never complained he was cold), the new tenants were complaining how cold they were. At first I thought it was because they lived upstairs in an apartment in another building where they could control the heat, so they were not used to the thermostat not being in their control. They put an thermometer in the unit, testing it to be sure it was working correctly at a relative's house first. It dropped considerably in the apt they were renting from me, down to the mid 50's for temperature and stayed there. The very responsible tenant in the apt next door, who has the thermostat had asked me if she should turn up the heat a couple weeks before all this, so she turned it up but they were not getting much of that heat. When they told me how cold it was inside, I called out my heat service company to check it out. They told me that the furnace ducts were not installed correctly and they were all messed up (done before we bought it). They should be re routed to be more efficient and get more heat into that unit with their own thermostat put in over there. Once that was done and they had a thermometer in there, they have been warm...maybe too warm with control, but it is better than losing a decent tenant. Putting a natural gas wall furnace in there (like I have at a 5 unit), may be safer than an electric heater, but just another option.


Heat (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Posted on: Feb 5, 2014 10:36 PM


Some thoughts if they help:

-some people are super sensitive. Wifey can feel a 2 degree change in the temperature. Me? not so much.

-thermostats are not always accurate. Set a thermometer next to the thermostat and compare.

-time of day, sun heating the windows, breeze outside, can all affect the temp inside.

-65 seems very minimal. We keep ours at 68/69 cuz Wifey likes it cool and I wear a sweater.

-keep the inspector happy at ALL costs!!! Residents come and go but inspectors live forever. You will see him again. Be the only person that day who COOPERATED, not argued with him.

If he said 63, fix this NOW!

-I agree she is building a case against you. Only communicate in writing and say less than you want. Ignore the request for info on heating allowance for now. Personally, I don't have an allowance anyway.

-I'd check the temp myself every day and log it. Be able to PROVE to the inspector you made it work.

-maybe move the thermostat to the top floor so you know it's warm. The lower floors will have plenty of heat if the top floor is good. (depends on your building)

-a little wind can suck the heat out of a building very quickly. Those windchill numbers the weatherman gives also affect your building. If the Feb windchill is -15, most buildings will struggle to keep warm. My house is tight but for a few days recently my furnace ran non-stop.

-this is a perfect example of why you should avoid paying for heat in ANY building. Seriously consider re-working the HVAC system to ALLOW the res to CONTROL and PAY FOR their own heat.

Good luck and let us know what develops!



Heat (by Dan [MA]) Posted on: Feb 6, 2014 5:32 AM

Long term, still work towards separating the heat. I was never a proponent for electric heat here in the cold north east until I recently bought a building and that was one of my only economical choices. The wall mount units are better now a days and work well. I've put them in several apartments. You could put something like that into your third floor for about $2K installed and then she would control her own heat. --64.197.xx.xx

Subject: RE: Heat
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