Author Topic: AC unit at rental property is dead - replace or do something else?  (Read 3131 times)

Zoot Allures

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AC unit at rental property is dead - replace or do something else?
« on: September 02, 2014, 12:27:13 PM »
I own a single family home here in Portland that I've been renting out for a few years. (I used to live in it.)

Central AC is not common in Portland, but this house came with it when I bought it 11 years ago. My Floridian tenants have been using the AC heavily, I think, and perhaps they loved it to death. But the unit was also just old, and now it's completely fried.

My preference would be not to replace it. I'd rather pay to have the home better insulated (it was built in 1946), perhaps taking advantage of some clean energy rebates, and perhaps offer to buy a window AC unit for my tenants. I'm a bit nervous because they're great tenants and I want them to stay, and I was also planning to raise their rent (for the first time) when their lease is up. I'm a bit concerned about how this change would play out. AC was part of the package when they signed their first lease with me.

Thoughts? How might I balance my short-term needs with my long-term priorities in terms of my pocketbook and what's best for the house (not to mention the planet)?

rocksinmyhead

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Re: AC unit at rental property is dead - replace or do something else?
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2014, 12:37:18 PM »
can't really give any advice from the landlord side of things (though I totally see your point/dilemma), but hoo boy I'd be pissed if my landlord raised the rent on me AND didn't fix the AC. as in, I'd move if I didn't have other serious reasons for loving the place/had decent other options.

Gone Fishing

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Re: AC unit at rental property is dead - replace or do something else?
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2014, 01:39:38 PM »
If it was part of the package you need to replace it, otherwise you are defaulting on your end of the lease.  Any change would require the tenants to agree to the change.  Depending on the tenant and your relationship with them you might be able to arrive at a better solution for both of you.  Be sure to mention lower electric bills ect. 

Zoot Allures

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Re: AC unit at rental property is dead - replace or do something else?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2014, 02:05:15 PM »
Thanks for the replies. Fortunately the hot weather is just about done for the year here. I'm reducing my tenants' rent for the weeks they were without AC and am also reimbursing them for a box fan they bought. Their lease is up in January. I think what I'll do is rewrite the lease to say that a window AC unit will be provided, and let my tenants know that I'm planning to install a high-end unit. The house is less than 900 sq. ft (not including basement), and I think there are window units that can handle that amount of space. I'm assuming they're quite a bit cheaper to operate than central AC. Maybe I can find some figures on possible savings to pass along to my tenants.

Gone Fishing

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Re: AC unit at rental property is dead - replace or do something else?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2014, 02:07:52 PM »
A new A/C (even window unit) is bound to be better than an old one.

thedayisbrave

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Re: AC unit at rental property is dead - replace or do something else?
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2014, 07:55:21 PM »
Based on the limited reading I've done, window units use less energy but central air is more efficient.  But I feel like anyone could have told you that. 

You may want to check your state's landlord/tenant laws just to be clear on what you can & can't do legally.  I know here in NC, landlords aren't compelled to provide AC but if it is provided at the start of the lease it MUST be maintained during the duration of the lease. 

usmarine1975

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Re: AC unit at rental property is dead - replace or do something else?
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2014, 08:19:18 PM »
I would get an idea what it cost to fix central air if you have not.  My units are all window units and I would prefer to have central air.  Its a better selling point and the competition likely has it.  I would have to add duct work which is why I don't have it in any. Steam and hot water is our heat. We are looking at the wall mounted units with a condenser outside.

I would 2nd the making sure you can just rewrite the lease.

Zoot Allures

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Re: AC unit at rental property is dead - replace or do something else?
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2014, 09:44:10 PM »
Thanks for the additional replies. Just to reiterate, central AC is not common in my area. I saw it as kind of an unusual perk when I bought the place, and I didn't use it that much. In any case, I feel an obligation to at least provide a nice window unit for my tenants, but the AC isn't actually listed on their lease.

Seems like replacing the AC unit could run about $3-4k, as opposed to $500 for a high-end window unit.

fxsts12

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Re: AC unit at rental property is dead - replace or do something else?
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2014, 01:25:46 PM »
I didnt see what the central heat is. In VA it is a central HVAC which is all you need. It cost 3k to replace a 2.5 ton  rated at 600 square feet per ton. Yours should be cheaper based on this. Most energy credits are not available for rental properties.  I would replace the HVAC and your refrigerant is upgraded for the future.