Landlord switching building to electric heat. — Brooklynian

Landlord switching building to electric heat.

After the boiler either breaking down or being shut off by National Grid at least three times in the past two years my land lord has finally decided to replace it. Unfortunately he is replacing it with electrical heating system for each apartment. Meaning the tenants such as myself will now pay for heat. I live in a studio inside of a late 1800s early or 1900s brown stone. How unusual is this and how much should I expect to pay for heat? I've never heard of a brown stone being retrofitted like this. Would it behoove me to start looking for a new place?


  • edited November 2014
    In a market rate building, it isn't "the norm" for a tenant to have to pay for their own heat, but also isn't unusual.

    Or illegal.

    In a market rate building, the landlord is required to provide you with the equipment to heat your apartment to the minimum legal temperatures, but isn't required to pay for the energy used by said equipment.

    If the landlord goes this route, I believe part of the deal is that the tenant gets to have control over how much heat (aka expense) they would like.

    Also, the tenant has the right to see how much the prior two years of utility bills were before signing the lease.

    ...however, your system was just installed, so I don't know what information you are entitled to.

    Your rent has basically just been increased. If you have a lease that stated heat was included, you might be entitled to a reduction in the amount of your heat bill for the duration of said lease.
  • In calculate how much it would cost, also consider the windows in your apartment, etc. How weatherized it is. If it's not well weatherized, you can always do some improvements yourself. Since it is a studio, your electric bill might go up $50 or more in the winter. It really depends on how warm you like it. Our landlord didn't turn the heat on that much one winter and we used a heater.
  • if they never charge you guys for this before and the lease still good, they can't just tact this on. But if you are month to month, you're out of luck.

    If he is expecting you to pay for heat, you best get a good deal on rent heating can get very expensive depends on how well the apt is insulated and electric heating isn't know to be good :/.
  • Armchair is right, if you have a lease, the landlord can't suddenly add an expensive new item on top of the rent. That said, some electric heating is energy efficient - heat pumps come to mind, but they need a reliable source of heat to exchange from and the outside air in a New York winter does not have enough heat to exchange to make your apartment warmer. When negotiating a renewal lease, you should ask for a lower rent than you are currently paying. NY rent typically, but not always, includes heat and hot water, however, rents that don't include heat and hot water should be lower than those that do include them.
  • edited July 2014
    Thanks for all the replies! Unfortunately my lease is up for renewal in mid August and the system will be installed after my lease is renewed. My landlord had given me a rent increase but has knocked that down by 25% and said he would give me a credit if my heating bill is too large. I'm not holding my breath on ever seeing this credit. I'm not sure he will be going to go much lower on my rent. 

    I lived in a building with horrible heating in college so I'm used to being a little cold. I'm planning on keeping my place a little chilly to help with the cost. Never the less, it appears my electricity bill will easily go up 50% to 100%. I do not believe this place to be very well insulated. Any tips on how I can cheaply increase the insulation? I've never had trouble with the heat, other than the broiler breaking, but it's been an issue for some of my neighbors above me.

    I really love my studio. It's the perfect size for me, has the original molding and a wall to ceiling mirror. I'm not sure I could find it another like it in Crown Heights. If I could I'm not sure I'd be able to afford it. I'm also not sure I want to dealing with finding a place in under a month and during classes. Plus I'd need to figure out the cost of renting a truck, buying boxes and deposits. 
  • Here are some ideas:

    - Cover your windows with some type of cover, plastic, etc. and edge them with a type of removable caulk. Hardware store sell it in a type of coil.

    - Remove your air conditioner instead of covering.

    - Buy a space heater (off-season / used might be cheaper) and use that instead of the baseboards. You can plug it into this:

    - One of these (for laughs:)

    We used the thermostat in our place and it worked well. Also an energy efficient space heater might be easier to control and save more money.
  • In a market rate building, the landlord is required to provide you with the equipment to heat your apartment to the minimum legal temperatures, but isn't required to pay for the energy used by said equipment. 
    What are the rules for a rent-stabilized apartment? 
  • Landlords of RS apartments are bound by these rules:
  • The only thing good about electric heat is that you can usually turn it on room by room but since you're in a studio when you're there it'll be on. You may not have to have it on in the bathroom though. I know Con Ed used to give discounts on electricity for people who were heated that way but I don't know if they still do. And, you may have an alternate electricity company that's your provider. Make sure to keep draperies, curtains and other flammables away from the heating element or you may find yourself in big trouble.
  • So as long as an apartment is rent-stabilized, you can't transfer the cost of heating to the renter, even between leases.
  • Invest in a good set of heavy velvet or thick lined curtains for the winter. They do an amazing job of blocking the cold air from coming in and unless you work from home the loss of light in the room isn't usually much of an issue. Also, once you get your system, test out running it and shutting it off for various parts of the day.

    BTW, what is the landlord doing about heat in the common areas? He's still going to need to provide heat to the hallways of the building otherwise your apartments will all be incredibly uncomfortable throughout the winter.
  • It is Friday.

    Someone should photoshop the Fonz's head on to this snuggie photo while they are waiting for it to be 5:00.

  • edited July 2014
    I'll look into getting an electric heater. Also the plastic insulation over the windows seems like a very good idea. Does anyone know if my LL will remove the current radiators?

    @pragmaticguy My plan to help lower me heating bill I was going to start a small controlable fire in my apartment. Maybe put in a fire pit?

    I'm also trying to decide between the pretty pink snuggie or the cool camouflage one. Gah such a hard decision!
  • DeLonghi has a great one that is wall mountable or you can use with wheels. I think it also has an auto shut-off if tipped over. That's what we have. I don't know if he will remove the radiators. From what you shared, doesn't seem as though he will.
  • sleep with 2 hot water bottles, one near the knees and the other in your arms
  • Hey everybody, I totally forgot about this topic! So my landlord never got around to switching the heat system! :) Yes!
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