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  1. #1

    Tenant questions regarding shared HVAC with separate meters in rental house.

    Hi all. I'll try to detail the situation as best as I can in bullet list form:

    • My wife and I started renting the first floor of a two story house about two years ago. House is old, built in 1930. We were renting the first floor of the house, which was about 1000 square feet. And there is an upstairs tenant who was renting about 500 square feet of space.
    • Both tenants (upstairs and downstairs) have their own electric meters.
    • For most of our two year stay we assumed that our central air and heating was only directly cooling and heating our floor of the house (I know, in hindsight that was a ridiculous assumption). We knew our heat would work it's way up there, but we didn't know there were vents going up there. The central air and heating is 100% on our gas and power meter.
    • During this summer's heat wave, we mentioned to our upstairs neighbor that he must be boiling up there without central air. He let us know that he was in fact doing fine, since our central air also cooled his place. This upstairs tenant also leaves his windows open year round. He's a nice guy, and I'm sure he didn't realize we were paying for his air.
    • Wife and I were then quite upset after suddenly realizing we'd been paying to heat and cool the upstairs for two years. Our utility bills have been quite high during the temperature extremes.
    • We ran the situation by our landlord, and they said that since the thermostat was on our level, the HVAC wouldn't be working any harder to cool the upstairs. I wasn't sure how much sense that made, and that's one of the reasons I'm here. It seems, intuitively, that at least in the winter we were certainly paying to keep our level warmer than it would be if we weren't also heating the upstairs. Situation is made even worse by the open windows upstairs, correct?


    At any rate, that's the gist of the situation. We are currently moving out anyway, so we decided to just let the situation go. Until things started to get contentious with our security deposit, and I became tempted to use the shared HVAC situation as legal leverage, if I need to.

    Is this a common scenario? If so, how does a landlord typically divide utility bills fairly? How much of an impact do you think cooling and heating the upstairs apartment had on our bills?

    Thanks in advance for any input.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati, Oh
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    Unfortunetly, we can't provide legal advise here.

    What I can tell you, is that you are paying to heat and cool his apartment.
    Pretending that you had completely seperate buildings, heated and cooled by completely seperate units, you would have a lower energy bill.

    If there is an issue, and you wish to persue the issue, I would suggest getting some legal help.


    As for your next residence, I would highly suggest checking into exactly how heat/cooling costs are divided, and if your unit is feeding a place you don't rent.
    Keep in mind, heating and cooling costs can average 40% (if not greater) of the gas/electric bill, and rental property is notoriously energy inefficient.
    "Better tell the sandman to stay away, because we're gonna be workin on this one all night."

    "Dude, you need more than 2 wires to a condenser to run a 2 stage heatpump."

    "Just get it done son."

    Dad adjusted

  3. #3
    Thanks hvacvegas. Yeah, I wasn't so much expecting legal advice. I just more wanted affirmation that we're in fact paying to heat and cool the upstairs residence, and that it would have a noticeable impact on our bills. Our landlord acted like the upstairs apartment was completely irrelevant to our bills, and it didn't seem to me that was the case.

    We're actually moving into a new home that we'll be owning, and we're looking forward to the much lower utility bills. :-)

    I suppose I have a followup question while I'm here: If we decided to pursue legal action, what sort of professional should I seek out for "expert testimony", so to speak? This may be an obvious question for this board, but I really wouldn't know where to start.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
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    Jun 2006
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    Richmond, VA
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    I like Peoples Court and recommend them Milan is very fair....
    Judge Judy is too harsh.....
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by reax View Post
    Thanks hvacvegas. Yeah, I wasn't so much expecting legal advice. I just more wanted affirmation that we're in fact paying to heat and cool the upstairs residence, and that it would have a noticeable impact on our bills. Our landlord acted like the upstairs apartment was completely irrelevant to our bills, and it didn't seem to me that was the case.

    We're actually moving into a new home that we'll be owning, and we're looking forward to the much lower utility bills. :-)

    I suppose I have a followup question while I'm here: If we decided to pursue legal action, what sort of professional should I seek out for "expert testimony", so to speak? This may be an obvious question for this board, but I really wouldn't know where to start.

    Thanks again.
    There are lawyers that specialize in tenet/landlord relations, and I doubt expert testimony would be required.

    If you tell a judge: "if the second floor wasn't there, my cold air would be going to me instead of him." and it should quash any issues.
    "Better tell the sandman to stay away, because we're gonna be workin on this one all night."

    "Dude, you need more than 2 wires to a condenser to run a 2 stage heatpump."

    "Just get it done son."

    Dad adjusted

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    67,741
    No legal advise can be given here. Nor is hunting for info for any legal action permitted.

    Thread closed.
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