Heat Laws in NJ

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Latest post 12-31-2008 9:48 AM by dennis_nj. 13 replies.
  • 12-29-2008 9:22 AM

    Question [=?] Heat Laws in NJ

    Is there a certain temperature I must provide to a tenant during the winter months? I have a tenant who has his own t-stat and I have noticed that he never has the heat below 70. He even leaves it on when he is not home. I have told him verbally to turn it down when he is not home and he does not listen.

    My heat bills have gone through the roof since this has happened. Now I am not trying to freeze the guy but I once heard that all I need to provide is heat at 65 degrease is that true?

    Also the utils are included in the rent and there is no lease just a verbal agreement. Would I be allowed by law to install a plastic lock box with a key that you need to change the temperature? This way I will leave it at comfortable temperature and if he wants it turned up or down he will have to contact me? I just want to do the right thing here.

    Thanks


  • 12-29-2008 9:53 AM In reply to

    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    I do not believe there are laws; however, most places I have been in and even at work keep the temp around 72. This is a good comfort level.

    I do not believe the extreme heating costs are associated with the guy keeping his tstat at 70, rather there is poor insulation, heat leaks such as single pane windows or possibly your heat pipes need burping.

    Although you may find it hard to fathom a tstat set to 70 or above...alot of people do not care to wear winter outfits in their house.

    I take it that you have hot water heat? I had a unit with hot water heat and found some interesting things happen when air gets in the line. First, the air acts as a blockage in the pipe and will settle at the highest point or in pipe bends. When an air bubble gets stuck somewhere, it only allows a small amount of heated water to get through and the boiler stays on almost full time. If you notice the boiler staying on for extended periods, it could be air. Have a HVAC repair come out and show you how to burp the line(s). This can have a dramatic effect.
  • 12-29-2008 9:58 AM In reply to

    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    By the way....it may seem that turning the temp down when not at home is an energy savor but more is not better. I believe you get the biggest savings by only dropping the temp 3 to 5 degrees. Any more than that and the furnace will have to work harder to heat the space (and everyhthing in it) back to a comfortable level and any energy saved with low setting will be lost by the added work to re-heat.

    I have also heard that hot water heat is slow to respond and the best strategy is to keep the temp at 1 temperature so changing tstat will only cost you money and not save any.
  • 12-29-2008 10:45 AM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
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    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    My guess is building codes probably specify something like 68 degrees--but lookup your local ones.

    Many of the lockbox thermostats are easy for a tenant to "defeat" so be sure to get a decent one.

    Tenants never listen--and they assume heat is free--they walk around in T shirts if left to own devices--while I put on a thick sweater...



  • 12-29-2008 11:50 AM In reply to

    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    I just cant believe that the heaing bill would be dramatically different from 68 to 72 degrees. Sure there might be a 10% difference but I get the impression that we are talking major billage here. I cant really say because unlike NJ, Colorado uses Natural Gas and I believe Heating oil is the norm there. The prices I am sure vary as well. I keep my house between 69 and 71 and the cost per month (electricity, gas) is about $130 in the coldest months as compared to about $60 in summer with the A/C.

    If the heating is way way over the norm, there has got to be something else going on such as an open window at night (I have tenants do this to sleep), air in the pipes (if water heat), clogged filter (if forced air), really bad windows and draft, inadequate insulation etc.....
  • 12-29-2008 12:00 PM In reply to

    • WiserLL
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    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    New Jersey codes: N.J.A.C. 5:10-14 et seq. and N.J.A.C. 5:28-1.12(m) says LL must provide heat (or if the tenant pays the utility bills, the ability to heat) between Oct 1 and May 1. Minimum 68 degrees during the day (6 am to 11 pm) and minimum 65 degrees during the night (11pm to 6 am).

    I got this here: http://www.lsnjlaw.org/english/placeilive/irentmyhome/tenantsrights/index.cfm

    I suggest reading the actual code. The MA code actually says where the temperature must be read: in the middle of each room, 5 feet off the floor. Knowing that makes me more comfortable suggesting to a tenant they get drapes or roman shades when they complain that they feel a chill by the windows.

    MA

  • 12-29-2008 12:01 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    • Joined on 03-30-2000
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    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    I've seen tenants turn down heat by opening up windows in winter and a few degrees can mean 20% $$



  • 12-29-2008 1:42 PM In reply to

    • WiserLL
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 09-20-2007
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    • Posts 194

    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    A couple years ago, I dropped my daily winter temp from 68 to 63 (work from home). The night thermostat stayed at 55 (down quilt is toasty warm, and apartment temp never got below 60 during the night). The dollar savings were very good - at least $50 a month.

    Last month, I paid $113. My tenant (duplex) paid $174. She keeps her unit at 69 evening and night and 63 during the day. She also doesn't like to wear layers or heavy blankets (or down).

    This is an 80 yr old wood, no insulation house. Original single pane windows.

    So, roughly, a 5 degree difference makes a 30% dollar difference.

    MA

  • 12-29-2008 2:34 PM In reply to

    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    Look, you've expressed nothing but trouble with this rental unit for a long long time.

    Since you have only a verbal month to month agreement, why don't you just give him proper notice of a rent increase and make it high enough to cover the increased utility bills.

    If he doesn't like the increase he can move.

    You really need to get better at this landlord thing or stop being one.





    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 12-29-2008 9:28 PM In reply to

    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    I guess I would not blow a gasket and seek extreme measures over $50 for a few months a year. I would do as was suggested in another response, jack the rent to cover it. If averaged over a year it might be an extra $10 or $20 a month. The nifty new lockbox and thermostat will probably take a year or 2 to recoup in saved energy. If the tenant(s) are cold because the LL has the tstat locked and set to 60 degrees, the LL will likley have a high turnover which will cost infinatly more in lost rent, carpet cleaning, painting etc... to get ready for the next renter.
  • 12-30-2008 8:30 AM In reply to

    Question [=?] re: Heat Laws in NJ

    If I could get out of the landlord business now I would. I have had 2 nightmare tennats. I am not going down easy I am going down with a fight. Once the housing market comes back into swing I will seriosuly consider selling. Until then I have to do what I have to do.



    Just an FYI when code enforcement came in last year they told me I could not rent it as a 2nd unit so I am technically renting out a few rooms in the downstairs since there is no stove. However I put a door at the bottom of the stairs which separates the upstairs from the downstairs for protection. I do not trust this tenant. If code enforcement is called I hope they don't view an interior door as a 2nd unit.

    Anyhow I got home last night and noticed the tenant purposely cracked the t-stat which was on the wall. He has a separate t-stat and I have my own t-stat upstairs. The entire lcd is cracked and was on the floor.

    I have a feeling he did this intentionally and he is beginning to get destructive. He will not get heat down there until it's fixed. Since I believe he did break it, do I have to fix it, or do I tell him if he wants heat he would have to replace it? This person is going to keep vandalizing the place.

    Also he never received any mail at my house since he has been living there. I was told by my lawyer that a postcard with a court date should arrive. This has been filed since mid November and I have been checking the mail and nothing has come yet. Should I give my lawyer a call?


    Any advice appreciated
  • 12-30-2008 12:12 PM In reply to

    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    No idea what court date you are referring too as you never mentioned it in your post.

    Might I suggest leaving the tenant alone and terminate his lease? To keep pestering him about the heat will only serve to make him angry and cost you much more in damage, risk of the code folks returning etc.... Saving a fwe buck in gas in not worth the many hundreds if not thousands it will cost to evict and or repair the unit including paying fines.
  • 12-30-2008 4:19 PM In reply to

    re: Heat Laws in NJ

    If you have filed something with the court that has to be served on the tenant and he's got a gimmick to avoid service by mail, you'll have no choice but to hire a private process server to catch him when he is home.

    And if he is vandalizing your property, take dated photos and file a police report each time he does it.

    You might be able to evict him faster or be be able to get a protective order that will remove him from the premises.



    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 12-31-2008 9:48 AM In reply to

    News [|*|] re: Heat Laws in NJ

    It seems that you're on the 'edge' as to legality of renting the 'rooms' in the first place, since you have already had code enforcement at your place. While the presence of a stove is one of the 'triggers' to multi-family use, it's undoubtedly not the *only* trigger.

    I might ask just how the tenant does any cooking without a stove?

    Next, you don't know that the broken thermostat was an intentional act, it could have been an accident. Without video, I doubt you get very far with that. *Not* fixing the heat because of this will surely get some local officials at your place, checking it over with a fine-toothed comb.

    If the thermostat is inside the tenants' living area, I'm not so sure that you entered his area legally, i.e., did you provide him any notice that you were entering?

    My next concern, is that since you said that utilities are included, is that the tenant will go out and buy some cheapo electric space heaters, and run them constantly. If you think gas is expensive to use for heat, just wait til you see the electric bill if he goes that route.

    Either way, to 'hot wire' a broken thermostat, all it takes is a short piece of wire with a couple of alligator clips on it, and the furnace will run continuously, costing you even more.

    Adding a plastic locking cover to a thermostat is very easily defeated, simply by placing a bowl of ice near it.

    What you'll have to learn, is that when you include utilities in the tenants' rent, then you have to add a bit extra to cover waste.
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