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Woodstove in rental house - who's responsible for cleaning?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by stek, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. Loco Gringo

    Loco Gringo Feeling the Heat

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    We rent our home and I take full responsibility for the stove, the maintenance of it, and I split all of my wood. Well I did just buy a truck load cuz I was worried about running out. This man could just forbid us from burning and leave us to heat with a heat pump which gives virtually no heat esp under 30 degrees. As well as a $300+ a month power bill. I see this Buck as a luxury as well as a huge savings and Im so thankfull for that. On the same token, we rent a house in another state and its been a nighmare untill a property manager was incorporated, but thats a different story. Bottom line is take responsibility for your own actions and appreciate what you have.
    Stek, I personally would tell them that it is out of commission indefinately due to safety concerns and that they should resort to using the electric heat source that is still functional. I have no sympathy for dependent deadbeats.

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  2. stek

    stek New Member

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    Gringo, want to move to WA state? =) When I have rented homes with stoves I have taken the same tack - saw it as a luxury and looked after it as my own responsibility.

    In all fairness these have been great tenants, if a little high maintenance. (I've had bad ones to teach me the difference) According to them they have heated with wood their whole lives so I thought we were on the same page.

    I think what I'll do is pay to have it cleaned this time then write up an addendum to the lease to spell out the terms under which we will allow continued use of the stove. Their lease is up in April so if they don't think it's fair neither of us will be stuck.
  3. Loco Gringo

    Loco Gringo Feeling the Heat

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    I deal with people all day at work that stand strong with burning "green" wood. They just dont know much more than the little world that theyve lived in all of their life. If thats what grandpa did, then thats the best way to do it. Maybe you could educate them a little and help the both of you?
  4. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Central NY
    I am a landlord with two rental properties. Never in a million years would I consider having a wood stove in a rental property. I've put clauses in my leases telling tenants that they cannot use the fireplace. Very few people really understand all the caveats of proper wood burning, and the time to figure that out is not after they have just burned your investment down.

    Remove the wood stove permanently, clean the flue pipe, and block it off. If they don't like it, find another tenant.
  5. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    NNJ
    Its like letting the tenant use your car you left there. I would never do it. Is it listed on the lease aggreement? I personally would lock it somehow to prevent usage.
  6. Extremebison

    Extremebison New Member

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    I don't think it's a good idea putting a wood stove in a rental. I got one in my rental cabin, as primary heat. But I provide the wood for the stove and just include it in my rent. This way I pay myself for cutting firewood. Also I know what is going in the stove ands it's properly seasoned. Also I maintain the stove, sweep the chimney and so on. I never had a problem this way.
  7. Jimbob

    Jimbob New Member

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    If I had a rental property, I'd pull the stove out and block the chimney.
  8. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    What Shari said. I've owned several rental houses over the years (not any more!) I can't imagine ever putting a wood stove in one.

    However, now that you've done it..... (and I think we advised against it a couple of months ago when you first brought up the issue- forgive me if that was not you) if you don't take care of it yourself it won't get done. Conditions of maintaining the stove should have been discussed up front and put into the lease agreement. Since fuel is probably the main issue, I would educate them on the care and feeding of a wood stove and go so far as to help them secure good, seasoned wood. Even sell, or give them some out of your own stash.

    Too many issues with burning wood vs renters. Besides the ever present prospect of a fire getting away from them, they can sure stink up the place with smoke. Plus there is the cleaning costs involved. I don't know if insurance would be an issue or not.

    Let us know what you find out when you go over for your inspection. It would be hard to believe they plugged the cap with only a couple weeks of burning. (could there be an installation issue?) Are you able to do your own cleaning? If not, maybe you could buy a kit and let the tenant do his own cleaning. Maybe you can get by with just cleaning the cap yourself for now, followed by a good chimney cleaning after the burning season. Maybe they won't be there next winter. You can gift new tenants a cord of dry wood but that only eliminates some of the risks.

    Hope it works out for you.
  9. kettensäge

    kettensäge Feeling the Heat

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    My brother removed the fisher grandma bear that I grew up from my moms house that he now owns/rents. It's out in the garage.
  10. Renovation

    Renovation New Member

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    +1

    Wood burning in a rental is a privilege, not a right, and puts huge liability on the landlord. It's a nice thing for a landlord to allow, but if it were me, I'd only do it if I trusted my tenants, if they signed on for all liability and maintenance, and I'd remove the stove at the first sign of trouble or conflict. Even then I'd be very hesitant to do it.
  11. sandie

    sandie Feeling the Heat

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    Should put in lease that 1)only 2 year seasoned wood to be used, 2) they are responsibile for the chimney sweep and 3) you will call the chimney sweep for a cleaning before you return the security deposit and if there is creosote the cleaning comes out of their security deposit, That way they will use the stove a few times and not ever night and know what the rules are up front.
    I would not have a wood stove in a rental unit because some people are just plain stupid and can burn your house down.
  12. stek

    stek New Member

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    Western WA
    Great suggestions, I am working on updating the lease and will have the current tenants sign an addendum if they want to continue burning (which they do). I'm also doing some research about how this kind of thing is dealt with/worded in other leases.

    At least half of the houses I've rented in my life have had stoves or fireplaces, and as a renter I managed to never burn one down =) Call me crazy (I've been called worse and for good reason) but I still think there are responsible tenants out there who can be trusted with a woodstove. Another reason to keep the stove in place is that in our part of the country it's common to lose power 2 or 3 times per winter for days on end and having a heat source in those times sure is a bonus. The property also has a horse barn, riding arena and pasture and is somewhat out in the country so this is not your typical rental house.

    In the way of happy endings and contributing to my delusions, after I suggested the problem might be creosote and asked if they had been burning wood with <20% moisture content as we agreed, tenants acknowledged that what they had been burning wasn't the best, went and looked down the chimney, found a mess of creosote and cleaned it out. That has taken care of the problem for now. We offered use of our sweep kit in the future and they have happily accepted as well.
  13. kjklosek

    kjklosek New Member

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    Just let the tenants know in advance that you will change the lease to make provisions for stove maintenance.

    Just make sure you will allow yourself chance to inspect the chimney and a fee if you need to clean it.

    Most folks are motivated by money. Once you charge them for a couple of cleanings, then they will either shape up or not use the stove.

    Personally, I would never put a wood stove or other type of solid fuel appliance in my rentals.

    However, it does allow you a chance to inspect the property for other things as well when you come to look at the chimney.

    J.P.
  14. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    Hate to say it, but most renters dont care about your house. If you allow the burning, i would take it upon yourself to get the cleaning done if you dont want your house burned down. I know that i burn good wood (most of the time), and can usually get by with a once a year cleaning with periodic inspections.

    My be all end all, i wouldnt allow a stranger to burn a stove in my house. However i did rent before and wasnt allowed to burn when i wished i could. In the future, if you want to allow burning, i would require an inspection (WITH PROOF) every couple months or so.

    As for this time, have them pay for an inspection. If the sweep says it needs to be cleaned, then pay for it for them. If the sweep says it doesnt need to be cleaned, they eat the inspection bill.
  15. jackofalltrades

    jackofalltrades Member

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    I would never allow someone to burn wood in a rental property I owned, but if I did I know it would be well explained and written down they were responsible for seeing the flue is cleaned if I did have other heat for them in the house. I lived in apartments at MS State and we had a fireplace there, but it was never talked about who was responsible for it, but we seldom used it anyway.
  16. Chargerman

    Chargerman Feeling the Heat

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    If this is what you are going to allow be aware of the possible outcomes. If you supply equipment and allow a tenant to clean the chimney what happens if they fall off the roof and injure or kill themselves? IMO you have just opened up a whole other liability issue for yourself. If you really think a wood stove is what you want in there I would require that the lease state a "Professional" chimney sweep do the cleanings for the tenant an agreed number of times per year and that a report be provided to you after each cleaning. Unfortunately, what we do in our own homes is a different matter than what a tenant can and should be allowed to do in a rental property. I deal in the apartment rental business full time and anything can happen. My opinion, from one landlord to another, take the stove out as you don't need the liability associated with it. If not make sure you have very, very, good property and liability insurance.
  17. jtb51b

    jtb51b Feeling the Heat

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    If it were up to me, and I wanted to keep the stove in place, I would get with a sweep service to suggest a cleaning schedule for the setup. This would help remove some of your liability if you hired that service out and just made additions to the rent to cover it. Maybe the sweep would do a couple of checkups to determine the cleaning schedule, or maybe just overclean it! Either way you are doing what you can to push these decisions to an expert--in writing.

    Jason
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I tend to agree Jason. But I might be a bit more reticent. Burning wood is a significant responsibility and unfortunately not all tenant are responsible. For that reason I would be reluctant to have the woodstove in at all with a new tenant. If, over time you get to know and trust the tenant and it looks like they will be in there for a while, then maybe move the stove back in. Otherwise it doesn't seem worth the risk and hassle. If the new tenant really wants to have the stove, then I would have an agreement in advance for a sweeping contract the cost being born by the tenant. Your peace of mind is more important than their heating bill. You have much more to lose if they turn out to be irresponsible or careless.

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