Contingency Planning For Landlords: Stay Out Of Hot Water By Keeping Your Apartment Building Heated With A Rental Boiler

Posted on: 27 June 2016


If you are the landlord of an apartment building in which one boiler furnishes all of the hot water and heat for the each tenant, it is crucial that you understand what needs to take place in case your boiler stops working and your tenants are left in the cold with cold water. Here's what you need to know.

Landlord-Tenant Habitability Laws of Your State

Most states have laws that say that landlords must provide a reasonable amount of heat and running water at all times. If tenants do not have enough heat, it can affect their health and safety, particularly in the very young and the very old. These laws have been made to protect tenants from what is often referred to as a slumlord. It's important to have a full understanding of the laws in your state, especially regarding issues like this because they could lead to costly fines, fees, and lawsuits. Not knowing the laws doesn't mean that you don't have to abide by them.

Common Boiler Failures

It's also important to know the various ways that boilers typically fail. That way, you can look for those particular problems each time you inspect the boiler system. Here are three of the more common ways that boilers fail:

  • corrosion due to poor water quality
  • cracking due to poor circulation
  • overheating due to low water

It's important to take care of the boiler system with preventive maintenance so these types of problems can be avoided, some of which can be very dangerous if your boiler runs on gas or propane. A complete system failure that results in a boiler explosion could cause the fuel line to rupture, which can become a very serious situation if there are lit cigarettes or candles in the building.

The Domino Effect

A failure in the boiler will have a domino effect if it is not taken care of as quickly as possible, especially in the coldest part of the year. The pipes in the building could easily start freezing when there is no heat in the building. And tenants may try to warm their apartments by turning on their gas or electric stoves. Hopefully, there are no gas stoves in your apartment building. If there are, you may want to consider purchasing new electric stoves for every apartment.

A Contingency Plan

Since Murphy's Law tends to take over the universe at times, it's a good idea to establish a contingency plan for when, not if, your boiler breaks down and needs to be repaired or replaced. Fortunately, there are rental boilers available for large commercial properties like your apartment building. However, you'll need to answer the following questions in your contingency plan for where you will place the rental boiler: 

  • Is it near the gas and water lines?
  • Will it have protection from weather?
  • Is the ground firm enough to support the weight?
  • Will it be in a safe location away from children?

Your answers should help you determine exactly where the rental boiler will need to sit and how to keep it working properly while it's there.

Emergency Contact Information

Obviously, someone in your apartment building will need to contact you or a property manager whenever there's an emergency situation, especially one that can have serious consequences if it's not taken care of as quickly as possible. You'll need to be sure that your tenants have a good number for you where you can be reached at all hours of the day. If you'd rather delegate that job to a property manager or answering service, make sure that you share your contingency plan with them regarding getting a rental boiler.