Landlord Thermostats: Smart Controls for Responsible Usage

Want to slash utility costs without breaking the bank or the law? Learn how to remotely control temperatures while improving energy efficiency within legal bounds using smart landlord thermostats.

By
Nichole Stohler
|
Last Updated
January 10, 2024
Landlord Thermostats: Smart Controls for Responsible Usage

Have you ever wondered why your apartment's temperature seems fixed, no matter the weather outside? That's because of a landlord-controlled thermostat. But what exactly is it? Simply put, it's a gadget landlords use to manage the temperature and energy costs in the rental homes they own. But is it legal for them to have this much control?

If you want to learn more about thermostats for landlords, the rules around rental property temperatures and handling tenant requests for changes, keep reading. We’ll explore the ins and outs of these thermostats, what the rules say, and what both landlords and tenants can do about it.

What is a landlord thermostat?

A landlord thermostat is a type of smart device that rental property owners can install to control and limit temperature settings when utilities have been included in the monthly rent. They are also often used in short-term vacation rental properties.

A thermostat for landlords prevents renters from adjusting temperatures beyond the predefined range. The goal is to help rental owners reduce utility bills while managing tenant expectations on temperature settings.

Is it legal for landlords to control a thermostat?

In most states, a landlord controlled thermostat is permitted, but this is subject to specific legal and ethical considerations.

The extent of these landlord controls over the temperatures depends on several factors:

  • Lease agreement: The terms of the lease agreement can specify who controls the thermostat. If the lease states that the landlord maintains control, tenants must comply.
  • Local and state laws: Different jurisdictions have varying laws regarding rental properties. Some areas might have specific regulations about temperature control in rental units, especially concerning minimum and maximum allowable temperatures to ensure habitability.
  • Implied warranty of habitability: Landlords are required to verify that rental properties are habitable and safe. This includes maintaining a reasonable indoor temperature. Excessively restricting thermostat control could potentially violate this warranty.
  • Tenant comfort and rights: While landlords may set general guidelines or limits for thermostat use to prevent excessive energy consumption, they should also consider tenant comfort. Completely denying tenants any control over the thermostat could lead to disputes and possibly legal challenges.

Smart thermostats

For property owners who are looking to install tamper-proof temperature controls across their units, look into a smart thermostat. This form of technology brings added conveniences to home temperature control. The best thermostat for landlords will possess these key features:

Energy savings: Analyze usage patterns and weather data to automatically adjust temperatures for efficiency — for example, turn the cooling down to low when the unit's vacant, and tap into that unused cooling during a heat wave. Optimize settings instead of overheating or overcooling.

Usage tracking: Smart thermostats provide detailed usage reports for property owners so they can track energy usage across units. Optimize presets and reduce utility bills based on analytics.

Customization: Landlords select preferred temperatures, build schedules, and adjust remotely via phone app. They can set custom controls for set-points and management on their smart thermostat.

Handling tenant temperature requests

If you put eco-friendly thermostats in your single family homes or other rental properties, tenants may ask to change temperatures now and then. That's understandable — preset levels won't always match everyone's preferences. A few tips on addressing such requests include:

Set clear expectations

Property owners should outline the heating and cooling policies in the appropriate lease clauses of the lease agreement or rental contract. This includes specifying the temperature range within which the property owner will maintain the unit and any limitations on tenant adjustments.

Encourage communication

Landlords should create an open line of communication for tenants to express their temperature preferences or concerns. Regular check-ins, surveys, or maintaining an easily accessible point of contact for maintenance requests can help you achieve this.

Consider exceptions

You may need to consider exceptions for tenants with specific medical conditions or other legitimate reasons that require a different temperature setting. In these situations, many landlords prefer to work with tenants to find a solution that meets their needs while maintaining a comfortable environment for all residents.

Actions tenants can take when facing temperature issues

If tenants encounter problems with the heating and cooling systems in their rental unit, there are actions they can take to address the issue, such as:

  • Contact the landlord: The first step is to inform the landlord or property management company about the problem, being sure to clearly communicate the specific issue with the heating or cooling system.
  • Follow up in writing: Tenants should follow up their initial communication with a written request or complaint. This creates a paper trail and provides documentation of the issue.
  • Understand tenant rights: Tenants should familiarize themselves with local laws and regulations regarding heating and cooling requirements. This knowledge will help them determine whether the landlord violates any legal obligations, as well as the appropriate time frame for repairs.
  • Allow reasonable time for repairs: By law, property owners are typically granted a reasonable time frame to address problems with the cooling and heating system. This time frame can vary but is often a few days to a week, depending on the severity of the issue.
  • Seek legal advice if necessary: If the property owner fails to address the problem within a reasonable timeframe or refuses to provide a satisfactory solution, tenants may seek legal advice from a professional, such as a lawyer or a local tenants' rights organization.

Landlord-control thermostat

Smart landlord thermostats represent an innovative solution for property owners seeking to balance responsible energy usage with tenant comfort and legal requirements. These devices allow for remote temperature control and energy efficiency, offering a streamlined approach to managing utility costs and ensuring a comfortable living environment.

While property owners must adhere to lease agreements, local and state laws, and the implied warranty of habitability, smart thermostats provide a customizable and legally compliant way to manage rental properties effectively.

By incorporating these smart controls into their properties, landlords can maintain a harmonious relationship with tenants, optimize energy consumption, and create a sustainable, cost-efficient housing situation for all involved.

Landlord thermostats FAQs

Are landlords allowed to lock the thermostat?

Yes, landlords can lock the thermostat in rental properties. It is within their rights to control and regulate the thermostat settings. However, specific regulations may vary depending on local laws and lease agreements.

Can tenants change thermostats in rented apartments?

Tenants can change thermostats in rented apartments if their lease agreement permits modifications to the property.


Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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