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Advice for a newbie landlord? e.g. contract lease to limit liability, gas line

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First time landlord-to be in a metropolitan area renting out a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath. We will be occupying 1 unit in the same house. There is only 1 gas meter so we will be paying for all gas and water. Electricity is separated.†Considering the area and schools, possible tenant may†be a family with children.†

Few questions....

(1) Helpful clause in the contract lease to protect ourselves and limit liability? (Ex: there's a recent post about mold†that kind of scares me)†
(2)†We are considering separating out the gas by repiping and getting a second legal gas meter - but not really sure if the cost (estimated 8-15k+) would be worth it - thought?†

Thanks for your help!

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Non-landlord here, but was recently a tenant and got into hassles with my last landlord (had to file lawsuit to get secu... (more)

puddonhead (Jun. 19, 2017 @ 8:48p) |

Dont rent to Gauss44 (he probably in is in MA, which is† quite tenant friendly).

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I am genuinely curious about this part.

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rated:
anonymousshopper said:   
(2)†We are considering separating out the gas by repiping and getting a second legal gas meter - but not really sure if the cost (estimated 8-15k+) would be worth it - thought?†

††
Since you didn't describe how the house is set up, or what area of the country you're in, it's anyone's guess. †But I'm having a hard time imagining it being worthwhile. †

rated:
the house is set up as 2 legal units - will be renting 1 unit out and occupying 1 unit. Due to the harsh winter here in New York, we're thinking the heating cost will be substantial (and not to mention avoiding all the potential argument about the "right" temperature setting between the two units). A second meter will make the tenant be responsible for their own heating and cooking gas cost.†

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Landlord responsibility and disclosure laws can vary significantly depending upon the property's location. †For example, here are just some of the laws that affect California landlords at the state level. †http://cal-rha.org/rental-property-owner-and-managers-guide-to-californias-new-laws-for-2017/††

New laws are being passed it seems every day:

For example, proposed legislation at the California state level, includes among other items,†(1) That it would be unlawful to question†a tenant about his or her immigration status (†A.B. 291†sponsored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), and†(2) Landlords would be banned from threatening to report tenants to immigration agents. If that were to happen, tenants would have the backing of the law to sue the landlord.


You might want to join a landlord membership association that will help you keep on top of your state and city's requirements.

rated:
Just factor in a fairly liberal use of gas by your tenant in the rental price. State which utilities are included in lease. Highly unlikely to be worth setting up a new meter if it really does cost as much as your estimate (which seems grossly inaccurate).

As an example, say if they run the gas furnace to keep home at 78F all day, all winter, what would that cost? Let's guesstimate +$200 per month over the four winter months. So an "extra" $800 a year over whatever cooking/hot water base load is. Set the rent an extra $70 a month over what you otherwise would.
https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/Researchers-and-Policymakers/Energy-P...


Definitely follow other advice in thread and get smart on landlord laws in your state/county/city.

There are sample leases available online for most locales, adapt to your purposes. If you don't know what you're doing and/or have some uncommon landlord clauses to "limit liability", I'd recommend a lawyer or real estate expert review. Small investment upfront...

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anonymousshopper said:   
(1) Helpful clause in the contract lease to protect ourselves and limit liability? (Ex: there's a recent post about mold†that kind of scares me)†


† this is what's in my lease. My RE attorney reviewed it and said it looks nice but probably not enforcable if push came to shove
Landlord shall not be liable for any damage or injury occurring on or about the Premises to Tenants, Tenantsí family members, guests, or invitees, except in the case of Landlordís failure to perform, or negligent performance of, a duty imposed by law. Tenants hereby agrees to protect, indemnify, and hold Landlord harmless from and against any and all losses, costs, expense, damage, or liability arising out of any accident or other occurrence on the Premises or any part thereof causing injury to any person or property whomsoever or whatsoever, no matter how caused, except in the case of Landlordís failure to perform or negligent performance of a duty imposed by law. Landlord is not responsible for damage to Tenantsí personal property resulting from fire, storm, rain, flood, power outage, appliance failure, theft, vandalism, leaking damage, acts of God, etc. Tenant accepts responsibility for insuring their personal property and will maintain renterís insurance for the duration of this Agreement.

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anonymousshopper said:   (and not to mention avoiding all the potential argument about the "right" temperature setting between the two units).†
† Are you saying there is no way to separately control the temperature in the rental? That alone would prevent many people from renting.

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atikovi said:   
anonymousshopper said:   (and not to mention avoiding all the potential argument about the "right" temperature setting between the two units).†
† Are you saying there is no way to separately control the temperature in the rental? That alone would prevent many people from renting.

† OP has a 3/1.5 SFH and wants to rent out all of it save one bedroom

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rufflesinc said:   
atikovi said:   
anonymousshopper said:   (and not to mention avoiding all the potential argument about the "right" temperature setting between the two units).†
† Are you saying there is no way to separately control the temperature in the rental? That alone would prevent many people from renting.

† OP has a 3/1.5 SFH and wants to rent out all of it save one bedroom

† I didn't realize, We will be occupying 1 unit in the same house, means one bedroom. That seems a bit intimate for total strangers.†

rated:
atikovi said:   
rufflesinc said:   
atikovi said:   
anonymousshopper said:   (and not to mention avoiding all the potential argument about the "right" temperature setting between the two units).†
† Are you saying there is no way to separately control the temperature in the rental? That alone would prevent many people from renting.

† OP has a 3/1.5 SFH and wants to rent out all of it save one bedroom

† I didn't realize, We will be occupying 1 unit in the same house, means one bedroom. That seems a bit intimate for total strangers.†


No, it seems like a duplex. See below (which is posted above)††
anonymousshopper said:   
†the house is set up as 2 legal units - will be renting 1 unit out and occupying 1 unit. Due to the harsh winter here in New York, we're thinking the heating cost will be substantial (and not to mention avoiding all the potential argument about the "right" temperature setting between the two units). A second meter will make the tenant be responsible for their own heating and cooking gas cost.†



OP - You're posting about a separate METER, but then you discuss "right temperature". †Is there only one HEATING unit? †We don't know if you're talking about just changing 1 gas meter for 2 separate gas meters (relatively cheap), or if you're talking about replacing one heating unit with 2 heating units. †That cost will all depend on the style of house (e.g. side-by-side duplex, 1st/2nd/floor), and heat (steam/hot water radiators or baseboards, forced air), and if A/C is part of the system. †In that case yes you could be talking 15k+.

If there is only one heating unit, are the separate ZONES for each unit? Or is there a single thermostat that controls the whole building? † If you have separate zones, you could put in a programmable thermostat in the other unit to encourage better conservation of heat. †Maybe you can get one that let's the landlord limit the max temperature (within whatever min temperature is required by law). †E.g. the law says the unit must be heated to at least X degrees, but there's no reason to allow the tenants to heat the place to 90 degrees all winter.

If you only have 1 thermostat, you should write into the lease that the temperature at the thermostat will be maintained at X degrees during the day and Y degrees at night. Figure out the average cost and include that in in the rent.†

rated:
Read up on local laws.

Look for a boilerplate lease document specific to your state with legal disclaimers. Local / state landlord groups often have generic leases vetted by lawyers.

I'd assess the cost of paying heat vs splitting gas service and figure how many years to break even. As a landlord you will lose money paying utilities almost always. You're looking at spending a lot to split it but if it is expensive to heat in the winter and you plan on this set up for long then it might be worth it.

Otherwise I would split the rent and a separate flat heat charge. Advertise it for the rent price and state the heat charge in the ad body. So for example if the place rents for $1000 a month and you expect $600 in annual heat cost you could charge extra $50 per month to cover heat. You could just raise rent to $1050 but your ad will get passed over for another place under $1050 without heat. So instead advertise it at $1000 and add a $50 heat charge for total of $1050 effective rent with heat included.

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atikovi said:   rufflesinc said:   
atikovi said:   
anonymousshopper said:   (and not to mention avoiding all the potential argument about the "right" temperature setting between the two units).†
† Are you saying there is no way to separately control the temperature in the rental? That alone would prevent many people from renting.

† OP has a 3/1.5 SFH and wants to rent out all of it save one bedroom

† I didn't realize, We will be occupying 1 unit in the same house, means one bedroom. That seems a bit intimate for total strangers.†


Around here, its the norm for six total strangers to share one house.

rated:
strangerange said:   
atikovi said:   
rufflesinc said:   
atikovi said:   
anonymousshopper said:   (and not to mention avoiding all the potential argument about the "right" temperature setting between the two units).†
† Are you saying there is no way to separately control the temperature in the rental? That alone would prevent many people from renting.

† OP has a 3/1.5 SFH and wants to rent out all of it save one bedroom

† I didn't realize, We will be occupying 1 unit in the same house, means one bedroom. That seems a bit intimate for total strangers.†


Around here, its the norm for six total strangers to share one house.

† a lot of things that are the norm in SFbay would be weird elsewhere

rated:
A local landlord-tenant agency/union/etc in your area may be able to provide you with a sample lease. Here's an example of one in my area: http://bni-maryland.org/
You can add any disclaimer you want in the lease but just because it's written there, does not mean it's legal or enforceable.

rated:
I would cut off gas to the other unit all together (somehow? Main control valve install) cheaper than additional system / re-do @ 5-15k. Then I would put in multiple wall units (window units) that do heat / ac. . Then they can just pay electric bill for their heat /ac and u won't have to worry about violating their rights in the winter etc... Also temp control problem solved & billing problem solved. Be sure to put in the lease "No portable heaters" Huge fire risk!

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rufflesinc said:   this is what's in my lease. My RE attorney reviewed it and said it looks nice but probably not enforcable if push came to shove
Landlord shall not be liable for any damage or injury occurring on or about the Premises to Tenants, Tenantsí family members, guests, or invitees, except in the case of Landlordís failure to perform, or negligent performance of, a duty imposed by law. Tenants hereby agrees to protect, indemnify, and hold Landlord harmless from and against any and all losses, costs, expense, damage, or liability arising out of any accident or other occurrence on the Premises or any part thereof causing injury to any person or property whomsoever or whatsoever, no matter how caused, except in the case of Landlordís failure to perform or negligent performance of a duty imposed by law. Landlord is not responsible for damage to Tenantsí personal property resulting from fire, storm, rain, flood, power outage, appliance failure, theft, vandalism, leaking damage, acts of God, etc. Tenant accepts responsibility for insuring their personal property and will maintain renterís insurance for the duration of this Agreement.
I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be responsible for any of these things even if this clause wasn't in the lease. It sounds like you could try "See this lease? You signed it!" as the first step to prevent uneducated tenants from seeking legal help.

The only problem I see with this is you saying you're only required to do things imposed by law. I suspect that not all of your duties as a landlord may be codified in law, so you may be required to do what's reasonable, and that may be up to a judge or jury.

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lawomanim1 said:   I would cut off gas to the other unit all together (somehow? Main control valve install) cheaper than additional system / re-do @ 5-15k. Then I would put in multiple wall units (window units) that do heat / ac. . Then they can just pay electric bill for their heat /ac and u won't have to worry about violating their rights in the winter etc... Also temp control problem solved & billing problem solved. Be sure to put in the lease "No portable heaters" Huge fire risk!
††
I would agree with that idea in general.†† I'd do it here in Portland.†

But OP is in New York and I don't think I'd want to use electric heat or mini split heatpump units for a home of any size in their winters.† The heat costs could get ridiculous.†† May be hard to keep people through more than one winter if the heat bills are too high.†† Or to keep them you might have to discount the rent to offset the high heat bills and then you wouldn't be ahead.

rated:
Screen, screen, screen. It is a lot easier to do the screening before you find the tenant instead of evicting them. They should make at least 3x the rent as income. They should have no past evictions, no owed rent or utilities at a minimum

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gnopgnip said:   Screen, screen, screen. It is a lot easier to do the screening before you find the tenant instead of evicting them.†
† One of the overlooked part of the credit report is the previous addresses. Match that up with what they put on the application, use your local property databases to verify any locations that aren't big apt complexes, and have applicant fill in any holes.

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jerosen said:   
lawomanim1 said:   I would cut off gas to the other unit all together (somehow? Main control valve install) cheaper than additional system / re-do @ 5-15k. Then I would put in multiple wall units (window units) that do heat / ac. . Then they can just pay electric bill for their heat /ac and u won't have to worry about violating their rights in the winter etc... Also temp control problem solved & billing problem solved. Be sure to put in the lease "No portable heaters" Huge fire risk!
††
I would agree with that idea in general.†† I'd do it here in Portland.†

But OP is in New York and I don't think I'd want to use electric heat or mini split heatpump units for a home of any size in their winters.† The heat costs could get ridiculous.†† May be hard to keep people through more than one winter if the heat bills are too high.†† Or to keep them you might have to discount the rent to offset the high heat bills and then you wouldn't be ahead.

† A large number of people get LIHEAP Assistance in the harsh weather states. LIHEAP can be used for gas or electric and LIHEAP will also replace the heat source in the event it breaks, under their additional emergency program (even for tenets) If a family in NY, they may have Section 8... which is a good program for landlords (guaranteed check and the Gov. has pretty good rules in place for screening tenants) If the tenet has Section 8 they would more than likely qualify for LIHEAP. Just an idea for...

rated:
rufflesinc said:   gnopgnip said:   Screen, screen, screen. It is a lot easier to do the screening before you find the tenant instead of evicting them.†One of the overlooked part of the credit report is the previous addresses. Match that up with what they put on the application, use your local property databases to verify any locations that aren't big apt complexes, and have applicant fill in any holes.Maybe it's a good thing they are overlooked -- while I was a renter, I never used my "home" address as the billing address for any credit card or loan, so they never showed up on my credit report. There are many advantages to this:, but that's for another thread.

rated:
scripta said:   
rufflesinc said:   
gnopgnip said:   Screen, screen, screen. It is a lot easier to do the screening before you find the tenant instead of evicting them.†
One of the overlooked part of the credit report is the previous addresses. Match that up with what they put on the application, use your local property databases to verify any locations that aren't big apt complexes, and have applicant fill in any holes.

Maybe it's a good thing they are overlooked -- while I was a renter, I never used my "home" address as the billing address for any credit card or loan, so they never showed up on my credit report. There are many advantages to this:, but that's for another thread.

† I was referring to addresses that DO appear but the applicant didn't list on their application, not addresses that don't appear but do list on application.

rated:
lawomanim1 said:   jerosen said:   
lawomanim1 said:   I would cut off gas to the other unit all together (somehow? Main control valve install) cheaper than additional system / re-do @ 5-15k. Then I would put in multiple wall units (window units) that do heat / ac. . Then they can just pay electric bill for their heat /ac and u won't have to worry about violating their rights in the winter etc... Also temp control problem solved & billing problem solved. Be sure to put in the lease "No portable heaters" Huge fire risk!
††
I would agree with that idea in general.†† I'd do it here in Portland.†

But OP is in New York and I don't think I'd want to use electric heat or mini split heatpump units for a home of any size in their winters.† The heat costs could get ridiculous.†† May be hard to keep people through more than one winter if the heat bills are too high.†† Or to keep them you might have to discount the rent to offset the high heat bills and then you wouldn't be ahead.

† A large number of people get LIHEAP Assistance in the harsh weather states. LIHEAP can be used for gas or electric and LIHEAP will also replace the heat source in the event it breaks, under their additional emergency program (even for tenets) If a family in NY, they may have Section 8... which is a good program for landlords (guaranteed check and the Gov. has pretty good rules in place for screening tenants) If the tenet has Section 8 they would more than likely qualify for LIHEAP. Just an idea for...


Well that's fine but LIHEAP is for low income households and I wouldn't want to purposely make my heat expensive then tie myself to poor renters as a solution.

And opinions vary on the typical quality of section 8 tenants.

rated:
†OP - You're posting about a separate METER, but then you discuss "right temperature". †Is there only one HEATING unit? †We don't know if you're talking about just changing 1 gas meter for 2 separate gas meters (relatively cheap), or if you're talking about replacing one heating unit with 2 heating units. †That cost will all depend on the style of house (e.g. side-by-side duplex, 1st/2nd/floor), and heat (steam/hot water radiators or baseboards, forced air), and if A/C is part of the system. †In that case yes you could be talking 15k+.

If there is only one heating unit, are the separate ZONES for each unit? Or is there a single thermostat that controls the whole building? † If you have separate zones, you could put in a programmable thermostat in the other unit to encourage better conservation of heat. †Maybe you can get one that let's the landlord limit the max temperature (within whatever min temperature is required by law). †E.g. the law says the unit must be heated to at least X degrees, but there's no reason to allow the tenants to heat the place to 90 degrees all winter.

If you only have 1 thermostat, you should write into the lease that the temperature at the thermostat will be maintained at X degrees during the day and Y degrees at night. Figure out the average cost and include that in in the rent.†

††
Wow. Thanks all. Can't personally reply to everyone but everyone has very good insights and perspectives. Appreciate it!

To address some questions:†

Yes it's a duplex. Two separate legal apartment units.†

Regarding heating...†There is currently 1 gas meter and 1 heating unit. We would like get an additional separate gas meter and heating unit. Separating out the gas cost and giving the tenant control of their own preferred temperature may be a good idea for the long run and might boost resell value. Someone mentioned that 8-15k seemed high - this was a very rough estimate. We are going to schedule various plumbers to visit and give us a more exact quote. But in general, this project may require repiping (e.g. breaking walls, repipe, rebuild walls) and applying to National Grid/ConEd for a new meter (e.g. lots of paperwork, months-long process, NG/CE will be installing the new meter). Appreciate the feedback and alternative ideas.†

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
gnopgnip said:   Screen, screen, screen. It is a lot easier to do the screening before you find the tenant instead of evicting them.†
† One of the overlooked part of the credit report is the previous addresses. Match that up with what they put on the application, use your local property databases to verify any locations that aren't big apt complexes, and have applicant fill in any holes.

††
Can you clarify what is the purpose of verifying all their previous addresses, matching with credit report, and filling in holes? Would asking for references enough? Thanks.

rated:
anonymousshopper said:   
rufflesinc said:   
gnopgnip said:   Screen, screen, screen. It is a lot easier to do the screening before you find the tenant instead of evicting them.†
† One of the overlooked part of the credit report is the previous addresses. Match that up with what they put on the application, use your local property databases to verify any locations that aren't big apt complexes, and have applicant fill in any holes.

††
Can you clarify what is the purpose of verifying all their previous addresses, matching with credit report, and filling in holes? Would asking for references enough? Thanks.

† How you going to verify references if they don't include all of them? Checking the previous addresses that on credit report tell you if they left off any addresses.

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
anonymousshopper said:   
rufflesinc said:   
gnopgnip said:   Screen, screen, screen. It is a lot easier to do the screening before you find the tenant instead of evicting them.†
† One of the overlooked part of the credit report is the previous addresses. Match that up with what they put on the application, use your local property databases to verify any locations that aren't big apt complexes, and have applicant fill in any holes.

††
Can you clarify what is the purpose of verifying all their previous addresses, matching with credit report, and filling in holes? Would asking for references enough? Thanks.

† How you going to verify references if they don't include all of them? Checking the previous addresses that on credit report tell you if they left off any addresses.

† Got it. Thanks

rated:
anonymousshopper said:   
...

Regarding heating...†There is currently 1 gas meter and 1 heating unit. We would like get an additional separate gas meter and heating unit. Separating out the gas cost and giving the tenant control of their own preferred temperature may be a good idea for the long run and might boost resell value. Someone mentioned that 8-15k seemed high - this was a very rough estimate. We are going to schedule various plumbers to visit and give us a more exact quote. But in general, this project may require repiping (e.g. breaking walls, repipe, rebuild walls) and applying to National Grid/ConEd for a new meter (e.g. lots of paperwork, months-long process, NG/CE will be installing the new meter). Appreciate the feedback and alternative ideas.†

††
I noted the $8-15k estimate was likely to be grossly inaccurate when considering it was to only add a meter like your OP says. Since you've now mentioned this includes also adding a furnace, and may have to do non-trivial ducting and piping work to accommodate the new meter/furnace, your estimate isn't so bad.

Some resources:
https://legacyold.coned.com/es/specs/gasyellowbook.pdf
http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/heating-and-cooling/install-a-fu...
https://www.costco.com/Lennox%C2%AE-Heating-and-Air-Conditioning...

Note on Costco HVAC pricing. Rarely the cheapest but I've quoted them four times in two different parts of the country and they were pretty middle of the road price wise, particularly when comparing apples to apples. Also limits risk of getting screwed royally.

Good luck.

rated:
rufflesinc said:   I was referring to addresses that DO appear but the applicant didn't list on their application, not addresses that don't appear but do list on application.I once changed my credit card's billing address to a relative's address. I don't remember why exactly, I either had to pay something or have something shipped to them and there was no better way. That address plagued my credit report for a while. Eventually I was able to dispute it off the report.

rated:
jerosen said:   
lawomanim1 said:   
jerosen said:   
lawomanim1 said:   I would cut off gas to the other unit all together (somehow? Main control valve install) cheaper than additional system / re-do @ 5-15k. Then I would put in multiple wall units (window units) that do heat / ac. . Then they can just pay electric bill for their heat /ac and u won't have to worry about violating their rights in the winter etc... Also temp control problem solved & billing problem solved. Be sure to put in the lease "No portable heaters" Huge fire risk!
††
I would agree with that idea in general.†† I'd do it here in Portland.†

But OP is in New York and I don't think I'd want to use electric heat or mini split heatpump units for a home of any size in their winters.† The heat costs could get ridiculous.†† May be hard to keep people through more than one winter if the heat bills are too high.†† Or to keep them you might have to discount the rent to offset the high heat bills and then you wouldn't be ahead.

† A large number of people get LIHEAP Assistance in the harsh weather states. LIHEAP can be used for gas or electric and LIHEAP will also replace the heat source in the event it breaks, under their additional emergency program (even for tenets) If a family in NY, they may have Section 8... which is a good program for landlords (guaranteed check and the Gov. has pretty good rules in place for screening tenants) If the tenet has Section 8 they would more than likely qualify for LIHEAP. Just an idea for...


Well that's fine but LIHEAP is for low income households and I wouldn't want to purposely make my heat expensive then tie myself to poor renters as a solution.

And opinions vary on the typical quality of section 8 tenants.

† It's common place in PA for 90% of the rentals to have no A/C supplied by the landlord and some random kind of heat supplied by the landlord (gas, steam etc...) So, renters supply their own window unit(s). It's somewhat (not much of difference) expensive to cool w electric and probably cost just as much to heat w electric. I don't see this resolve as purposely making the heat expensive...I see it as resolve to his problem. People have the ability to shop their electric rates in NY to keep the bill down. Yes, LIHEAP is for low income people and more and more people are finding themselves on assistance, whether you or they, like it or not. Section 8 Gov. screening combined with your own screening process should net a good tenet. As a landlord, Descrimination is a Huge Legal No No. Also. As a landlord. †#1 you are in business to make a profit, # 2 guaranteed payment isn't painful.†

Btw, my experience has been, my best tenets were on Section 8. They know their units get inspected and they can be reported and lose the benefit of Section 8. The everyday middle class professionals tore my places up and I had little to no recourse.

rated:
lawomanim1 said:   
... said: ...
† It's common place in PA for 90% of the rentals to have no A/C supplied by the landlord and some random kind of heat supplied by the landlord (gas, steam etc...) So, renters supply their own window unit(s). It's somewhat (not much of difference) expensive to cool w electric and probably cost just as much to heat w electric. I don't see this resolve as purposely making the heat expensive...I see it as resolve to his problem. People have the ability to shop their electric rates in NY to keep the bill down. Yes, LIHEAP is for low income people and more and more people are finding themselves on assistance, whether you or they, like it or not. Section 8 Gov. screening combined with your own screening process should net a good tenet. As a landlord, Descrimination is a Huge Legal No No. Also. As a landlord. †#1 you are in business to make a profit, # 2 guaranteed payment isn't painful.†

Btw, my experience has been, my best tenets were on Section 8. They know their units get inspected and they can be reported and lose the benefit of Section 8. The everyday middle class professionals tore my places up and I had little to no recourse.


Unless the local city or state has a specific rule, you are not required to take section 8 tenants.†† Thats not protected group and not discrimination.
With exceptions, like here in Oregon they passed a law saying that we can't deny section 8 applicants.†† Maybe its protected in your area too.††† but thats the exception rather than the rule.††

I know there are good people on section 8. †† But I'm playing the odds and as a landlord I'd pass on people with no money.

And seriosly, I think its really a bad plan and a waste of everyones money to purposefully install crappy inefficient heat with the plan of getting government handouts via poor people to pay for it.

To each their own, if you like section 8 then you're welcome to em.††† I"ll take the middle class professionals any day.



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anonymousshopper said:   one furnace
seriously? is this common there? sounds like a duplex was created well after the place was built...and was not very well thought out, frankly. Is the AC the same setup, ie. same unit through the same ducts? or do yall even have AC?

regulating temperature is going to be a constant issue if both units are on one furnace. If there's no AC, I would do baseboard heat, or ventless wall heaters in the rental. If there's AC, then...well that sucks, cuz it'll probably have to be window unit ACs with heat...which are not desirable at all - inefficient, blocks light, look bad, etc.

i guess another option is to explain to the tenant, and have the lease reflect, that the heat will be set at XX degrees (probably like 68 or so) at all times during cold weather, and any additional heating they will be responsible for, but must be legal and safe sources (i would suggest the portable convection heaters with tip-over protection) Would be legal in my state, not sure about yours.

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Non-landlord here, but was recently a tenant and got into hassles with my last landlord (had to file lawsuit to get security deposit back etc) and hence got more familiarity with LL/tenant laws than I would like.

My state was CT, yours is NY.

Mental notes I have made for myself if I ever want to become a landlord:
1. Most states have now adopted URLTA. So the broad framework of the LL/tenant law is similar in most states except 4-5 deep red ones which are still outliers. Look it up online.
2. NY, like CT is an enthusiastic adopter of URLTA, only more tenant friendly.
3. A tenant can take a LL to the cleaners over even frivolous repair claims etc. AND you are not allowed to retaliate - including NOT renewing lease next year! I had an episode as a tenant where I lived 1 year+ without a working AC. If I had known how the laws and process is structured - then I could have taken the LL through hell rather than living in a summer-hell without an A/C.
4. Given #3 - if I ever become a landlord then I am not renting to someone with a lot of time in their hands in a state like CT/NY. Maybe there is a lot of money to be made there - but the monitory damage the tenant can cause if he/she is pissed for any reason is enormous and I don't think you want to take that risk. Given you are living in one unit and renting the other - you probably want to make sure you really have good and qualified tenants. Busy professionals are the first priority!
5. After making sure of the quality of tenant - treat them well and make sure they are not pissed off. If they do get pissed of - they can cause a lot of trouble for you.

That's all the "practical advice" I can think of.

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puddonhead said:   4. Given #3 - if I ever become a landlord then I am not renting to someone with a lot of time in their hands in a state like CT/NY.

† Dont rent to Gauss44 (he probably in is in MA, which is† quite tenant friendly).

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lawomanim1 said:   
The everyday middle class professionals tore my places up and I had little to no recourse.


I am genuinely curious about this part.

In my (extremely simplistic view) - it should be rather simple to get a judgement and garnish wages for middle class professionals and recoup all your expenses for doing so to boot.

I can pull up copious amounts of case law for my state where the court has awarded the LL damages due to tenant's actions. They tend to reduce the amount asked - but that is presumably because the LL would probably have inflated the number to begin with.

Isn't it?

What I am missing? Is it difficult to "prove" the damages to the court's satisfaction? Or is there some other loophole that makes it a "no recourse" thing like you say?

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