owner (me) occupied 2-family, one heating system, tenant too cold  


120-year old house in Mass, upstairs tenant apartment, modern storm windows, decent if not great insulation, single steam boiler radiator heating system, only one t-stat down in my apt. I've been renting out the place since '02, several tenants, never a cold complaint before this past winter. Generally I never let the temp drop below 70 on the stat, sometimes 71-72 when extra chilly/windy, 68 overnight for sleeping. But the tenant claims her own temp is usually 65. She got a digital thermometer to follow it, and she called the city health dept about this. I never heard from them. I've had the gas company over twice to inspect the boiler and adjust her radiators. Sure, I could turn up the heat, but how far, how uncomfortably hot, before she got enough heat? I'd have to open my windows in winter.

I ask myself why I've never had complaints before. I think it's because all my previous tenants were under 40 and had typical 9-5 jobs and then nightlife/hobbies/weekend outings. This tenant is 72 and only goes/works out of the house a few hrs a week. Basically she's home all the time. At application time she presented herself as a self-employed business owner with an office several miles away. That wasn't untrue. But I didn't assumed she'd be 'out' at her work a lot more. Even if I'd known, I wouldn't have predicted a 5 degree temp difference.

I cannot afford a second boiler with plumbing, or new insulation. Her electric is her own account and she ran a small space heater quite a bit. She didn't anticipate this cold problem either.

I'm waiting for her see the light, to 'give notice' for leaving at the end of the lease, Aug 31. But I may have to let her know I won't be renewing.

Thoughts, suggestions?


Not "didn't assumed". Just assumed.


It is such a fine line to walk with regard to good (but problematic tenants). Your best bet is to simply not renew and try to wait this one out...

In the meantime, you may have to deal with a little of your own discomfort regarding adjusting the heat to reasonably satisfy her without having to sweat this too much. Be sure to document your correspondence about what measures you have taken to satisfy her and the limitations of the building.

Obviously, I would add a provision to your lease agreement to address this issue for the next tenant (or renewal - if you dare to keep this one).

Thanks, Driftwood. I doubt the heat will be a physical issue until November, and yes if she's still here we may have to have some discomfort. I'll definitely be documenting. One thing I want to clarify here is my reference to her age. This wouldn't be age discrimination, my sense is that most if not all people of any age would feel chilly sitting at home 24 hrs with that heat.


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