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  1. #1
    wildmonster is offline Junior Member
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    Gas wasted due to broken water heater sensor – landlord to pay?

    What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? MA

    This is a follow-up to my previous post on the mystery of excessive gas usage. Thanks to your responses, I kept urging the landlord to check leaks, etc. There was no good news until this morning when the plumber discovered that the sensor in the hot water heater had fallen off, that it was laying on the floor and not connected to anything. The hot water was at the scalding temperature of 160F! In other words, the digital setting of 100F was meaningless – the boiler never registered anything; it was never “satisfied” and it kept on heating up water to the hottest limit, summer and winter, 24/7.

    This explains everything. It explains why the water was so darn hot since day one. Days after I moved in, I noticed that the hot water was crazy hot, so landlord and I changed the reading from 125 to 110, then 100. Water from the faucet remained super hot, but neither landlord nor I pursued the problem further. Most importantly, it explains why my gas consumption was 2-3 times more than that of previous tenants even in the summer months. That means a good $700-800 ABOVE what previous tenants paid in the past 6 months.

    Now my question is: Should the landlord pay for the gas “wasted” in heating up the water from July 1 – Jan 16 (because he is responsible for the faulty/ non-functioning sensor)? He seems to be a reasonable guy, but when I told him briefly about this great new discovery over the phone, he didn't sound too positive. Before I sit down with him later this week for a serious discussion, I want to know exactly what my rights are and where I stand. THANKS!
  2. #2
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    Thrilled to hear that the problem was found, and I presume now remedied.

    Not a legal answer here:

    I believe it is the LL responsibliity to pay for the over usage of gas. He was notified of a problem as well was aware of a problem with the boiler (I wasn't aware the boiler and water heater were one and the same in your home).

    The problem is how to determine the actual loss. With you being a relatively new tenant, there is no history over this time period to compare your usage with the bad boiler compared to a good boiler. I would tend to say he owes you the diff for the same time period with the old tenant BUT when the next time period comes around and you can compare your usage to your usage I would make a final correction using the new figures.
  3. #3
    Ohiogal is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by justalayman
    Thrilled to hear that the problem was found, and I presume now remedied.

    Not a legal answer here:

    I believe it is the LL responsibliity to pay for the over usage of gas. He was notified of a problem as well was aware of a problem with the boiler (I wasn't aware the boiler and water heater were one and the same in your home).

    The problem is how to determine the actual loss. With you being a relatively new tenant, there is no history over this time period to compare your usage with the bad boiler compared to a good boiler. I would tend to say he owes you the diff for the same time period with the old tenant BUT when the next time period comes around and you can compare your usage to your usage I would make a final correction using the new figures.
    See I would disagree with you because the tenant also knew and did not press the issue. By his own admission, he didn't pursue it any further. If he was concerned he would have continued to complain to his landlord that the water was too hot. Was the landlord informed in writing that the problem remained unfixed?
  4. #4
    wildmonster is offline Junior Member
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    Hello, regarding "pressing the issue", I'd like to stress that I have been pestering the landlord (and gas company and anybody who would listen to me) for absolute months - verbally and in detailed letters about the *excessive use of gas*. I repeatedly begged them on bended knees to find out the cause, but they just came out to look around briefly or made some calls, and simply shrugged their shoulders. True, I did not mention the boiler specifically because I did not know that the hot water was tied in with the gas usage! If I knew, then the problem would have been fixed long ago!

    Landlord certainly knew about the gas problem, but he didn't send for the plumber to check things out until now when I was practically screaming my head off. If the plumber came last fall, he would have discovered the broken sensor then and saved me months of grieve.

    In other words, the issue is not really about the water being hot, but about the *gas disappearance*. It just so happened that the gas disappearance was a result of the faulty sensor in the boiler. And landlord was completely aware of the gas problem.
  5. #5
    cerulean is offline Junior Member
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    I'm in Michigan.

    Can you please let update on what you're doing/pursuing?

    My housemates and I are in a similar situation since heating vents were open in the basement, effectively causing us to heat the basement. Our gas bills are more than twice as much as the people in the upstairs apartment, despite their apartment being about 1.5 times as large as ours. Once we noticed the abnormally large bills, we asked the landlord to check out the heating system but he keep on ignoring our request and telling us that the gas bill was high only because rates doubled. We would like reimbursement for at least part of the heating bill.

    Please let me know how your situation is progressing! Thanks.
  6. #6
    BSharp is offline Member
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    Firstly lower apartments are always more expensive, with independent metering, because heat rises.

    Water Heaters: as a general rule of thumb ...

    landlords are technically, scientifically illiterate. Counting money is easy, but they are illiterate and also they are liable for maintenance errors. 3 times they fixed my kitchen faucet drip, still drips, I just laugh, they cannot fix it, they pay water so I don't care.

    Sue the bastages! Seriously. You should not pay for their lack of technical education. Unless you want to be a doormat. Especially at $100s of extra dollars.

    Landlords are generally stupid. They charged me a late fee once. It was their fault but the young ignorant security guard turned landlord blamed me. Attention to detail, I wrote a detailed letter, certified mail, mailed to the office.

    The property manager knew I was serious, detailed, educated ... then he apologized for 'their' error. Said he'd refund fee. Did not yet. Whenever I leave, I'll sue for 3 times the late fee.

    PAPERTRAIL with DATES and DETAILS. Be kind. Not angry. Then Certified mail. Your anger list is separate for you only.

    Works every time. The stupid landlord sends the letter to his lawyer who agrees, yep that makes sense. lol

    Takes nothing to become a landlord except a steady income.

    Landlords are illiterate. Sue 'em.
    Last edited by BSharp; 01-19-2006 at 01:22 AM.
  7. #7
    panzertanker is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ohiogal
    See I would disagree with you because the tenant also knew and did not press the issue. By his own admission, he didn't pursue it any further. If he was concerned he would have continued to complain to his landlord that the water was too hot.
    AND that his gas bill was pretty steep.....for months in a row.
    I have noticed that even intelligent people ask assinine questions every now and again.
    Disclaimer: I know a few lawyers. None of them is named panzertanker.
  8. #8
    Happy Trails is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildmonster
    What is the name of your state? MA

    There was no good news until this morning when the plumber discovered that the sensor in the hot water heater had fallen off, that it was laying on the floor and not connected to anything. ***You and the landlord missed that?

    The hot water was at the scalding temperature of 160F!

    Days after I moved in, I noticed that the hot water was crazy hot, so landlord and I changed the reading from 125 to 110, then 100. Water from the faucet remained super hot, but neither landlord nor I pursued the problem further. ***Your water was 160 degrees and you didn't pursue the problem? This is not what you say in your second post.


    Most importantly, it explains why my gas consumption was 2-3 times more than that of previous tenants even in the summer months. That means a good $700-800 ABOVE what previous tenants paid in the past 6 months. ***Yes, it does explain it, for water to reach scalding temperatures it requires energy.

    Now my question is: Should the landlord pay for the gas “wasted” in heating up the water from July 1 – Jan 16 (because he is responsible for the faulty/ non-functioning sensor)? ***You tolerated scalding water for six and a half months?

    He seems to be a reasonable guy, but when I told him briefly about this great new discovery over the phone, he didn't sound too positive. Before I sit down with him later this week for a serious discussion, I want to know exactly what my rights are and where I stand. THANKS!
    How can he be reasonable, if you have been pestering him about the problem?

    I don't know how old you are, but this serious discussion should have happened months ago. Of course hind sight is 20/20, and now the problem has been fixed. However, who should be liable for the over usage of gas? I would say it would appear to be you and the landlord.
  9. #9
    ENASNI is offline Senior Member
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Trails
    How can he be reasonable, if you have been pestering him about the problem?

    I don't know how old you are, but this serious discussion should have happened months ago. Of course hind sight is 20/20, and now the problem has been fixed. However, who should be liable for the over usage of gas? I would say it would appear to be you and the landlord.

    I concur... 50/50 or half and half, whichever you prefer.
  10. #10
    Ellerge is offline Member
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    Thumbs down Stupid!

    BSharp - I am one of those STUPID LANDLORDS that you refer to. Be sure to let us know what kind of reference your present LL gives you. Also, do you have a month's rent and/or a secirity deposit? In addition, make sure that when your present LL inspects your furnace that he does not "forget" to reattach one of the wires from your thermostat to your furnace and/or that, when you get to Court, on that late charge, that the LL does not make you pay for ALL subsequent months that you were late because he credited ALL of the monies you gave him FIRST to the outstanding late charges and LASTELY (it's in my Lease) to the current month's rent making you late EVERY month! Of course, you may have a LL that does not know the laws and/or allowes you to con him.
    BTW, if you are so smart why are you a tenant and not a Landlord?
  11. #11
    ENASNI is offline Senior Member
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    Huh?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ellerge
    BSharp - I am one of those STUPID LANDLORDS that you refer to. Be sure to let us know what kind of reference your present LL gives you. Also, do you have a month's rent and/or a secirity deposit? In addition, make sure that when your present LL inspects your furnace that he does not "forget" to reattach one of the wires from your thermostat to your furnace and/or that, when you get to Court, on that late charge, that the LL does not make you pay for ALL subsequent months that you were late because he credited ALL of the monies you gave him FIRST to the outstanding late charges and LASTELY (it's in my Lease) to the current month's rent making you late EVERY month! Of course, you may have a LL that does not know the laws and/or allowes you to con him.
    BTW, if you are so smart why are you a tenant and not a Landlord?

    Ellerge? How could you read his post? I thought all landlords were illiterate? And are you actually on a Computer and the internet? How the Heckfire did you figure out how to do that?

    Bsharp is going to be singing a different tune soon.
  12. #12
    Happy Trails is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ENASNI
    Bsharp is going to be singing a different tune soon.
    If he/she really wants to "Besharp", perhaps they shouldn't post so early in the morning.
  13. #13
    wildmonster is offline Junior Member
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    Update – I just spoke to a lawyer who also happens to be a landlord with a tenant. (We don’t know each other well, I see her once in a while on a large project we both participate in; I asked for her objective opinion, so I don’t think she was saying things to “please” anybody.)

    According to her, the case is very simple: 1) Excessive gas was used (nobody disputes that). 2. Reason for this excessive use was the malfunction of boiler. 3) Landlord is FULLY responsible for correct function of boiler, and for any damage or costs incurred as a result of malfunction. 4) Therefore landlord pays for the “extra” gas. 5) Water being 160F for months has nothing whatsoever to do with this case. The only important thing was that landlord was notified of the LARGE GAS BILLS and these bills alone – tenant didn’t need to say anything about water, stove, fridge, windows, etc. (Landlord was indeed notified of the gas bills repeatedly in writing for months.) When landlord was told of the gas problem, it was his responsibility – and solely his responsibility – to figure things out, to send for plumber to check things, etc. (No plumber came.) Tenant is not responsible for and is not supposed to have the knowledge to figure anything out with appliances, pipes, etc. All the tenant needed to do was to notify landlord about the SPECIFIC problem (which is the large gas bills).

    On my part, I’m perfectly prepared to pay for my fair share of gas usage. Propane gas company has records of previous tenants and good estimates of consumption for this kind of house in this area etc. I’ll take their higher figures (even though I’m a very frugal energy consumer). But I still think that landlord should pay the difference. (By the way, the boiler sensor is deep inside the boiler which can only be reached after removing front panel etc - it's not just a thermostat on the outside which can be seen or "inspected" by tenant.)
  14. #14
    ENASNI is offline Senior Member
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks for the update. Let us know what the landlord says.
  15. #15
    Happy Trails is offline Senior Member
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    Yes, please do update the outcome, whether it is good or bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildmonster
    (By the way, the boiler sensor is deep inside the boiler which can only be reached after removing front panel etc - it's not just a thermostat on the outside which can be seen or "inspected" by tenant.)
    I understood that it was visible, because you stated it was on the floor.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildmonster
    There was no good news until this morning when the plumber discovered that the sensor in the hot water heater had fallen off, that it was laying on the floor and not connected to anything.
    I can see your point, we don't have the timeline that you do. Did the LL think the problem had been solved after adjusting the hot water heater? When you stated that neither of you continued to pursue it, that leaves more questions for us on the forum. Such as, did the LL do a follow up? Did you tell the LL that there still was a problem? That is where I am having a problem seeing how the LL can be 100% responsible.

    Anyway, thanks for updating and good luck.

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