Summertime Heat Drains Landlords’ Profits

Is the air conditioning operating correctly in your rental units? Let’s hope so.

But if you are like many landlords across the country, you’ll have a glitch from time to time.

When the heat is on, but the air is not, your tenant is not the only one who will suffer. Landlords are poised to lose money when this happens, and expenses are not just limited to the cost of repairing the air conditioner.

If you find yourself in that perfect storm — with soaring temperatures and no air conditioning — your tenant may have the right to:

Abandon ship and send you their hotel bills;

Refuse to pay rent during the hot spell;

Hire their own repair person and take the fee off the rent; or,

In some cases, break the lease.

And that’s not to mention the tenant who calls the police, the building department, or the local news to garner some support for their plight.

Even if air conditioning is not specifically provided for in the lease, if it was in the rental unit when the tenant signed the lease, then chances are the landlord will need to keep it in tip-top shape.

That means:

Moving quickly with repairs when a unit breaks, and

Staying in touch with tenants and running interference if the repair is delayed.

Be ready to provide stop-gap measures like bringing in portable air conditioning units or offering alternative living arrangements until the rental is more habitable — a one-night hotel bill could potentially save you thousands of dollars down the road in unpaid rent and court battles.

It is definitely to your advantage to oversee repairs, choosing your preferred contractors and staying in the driver’s seat when it comes to getting the air back on track.

Having some type of repair-request system in place that creates a paper trail is crucial to avoiding a total calamity. You should be able to show when the tenant reported a breakdown, what you did to deal with the emergency, and how you accommodated your tenant. Otherise, you may find yourself in hot water — over cold air.

Here are some additional ways to keep units cooler so tenants don’t put as much strain on your air conditioning:

Encourage your tenants to keep their window coverings drawn during the heat of the day to prevent units from heating up as much. It also helps to keep windows closed during the day when they might be off at work, so the hot air doesn’t seep into the unit as quickly.

Running an electric fan increases the effectiveness of the air conditioning.

If a heat wave hits and the air goes down, encourage your tenants to avoid running kitchen appliances like the dishwasher or oven during peak heat. This might be the perfect time for a microwave dinner — or you can order up some take-out food.

Another thing you can do is supply a common area room where tenants can hang out while their air conditioning is being repaired. This is particularly important for those who suffer most from the heat, like someone in poor health.

Tenants who feel cared for are not as likely to lose their tempers, or call in the recruits — like a building inspector or their favorite local investigative news channel.

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our new Landlord Forms Page.

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