Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Chivewarrior on January 13, 2013, 10:05:20 PM

Title: Heat
Post by: Chivewarrior on January 13, 2013, 10:05:20 PM
So apparently it's rude to expect your landlords to keep the house at reasonable temperature now.

I'm staying in California on an internship, but while I'm south enough that there's no snow, it's north enough that it still gets fairly cold, particularly at night. I booked a furnished room in a sort of boardinghouse through AirBnB. One of the blanket rules AirBnB has is that hosts must provide bedding.

I've had a bit of a silent ongoing battle with regards to the thermostat more or less since I got here-- I turn it up a little, and someone else (based on the rest of the story I think it's the hosts) turns it all the way down. When it's all the way down, house temperature is in the low fifties according to the thermostat. It's colder in my room than the rest of the house, so I suspect it's actually high forties in my room when the heat is off. Sometimes I go to the thermostat and turning it up doesn't do anything-- the landlords have, rather than continually reset the thermostat, just shut the heat off entirely at the base. It's worth noting at this point that the bedding they provided is two thin blankets and a sheet, not enough to deal with this kind of temperature.

I have Reynaud Syndrome in my hands, so it doesn't matter how many layers I put on, if the outside temperature isn't a certain level my hands will turn purple and become hard to use, particularly if the cold temperature is ongoing.

Today was one of the heater-is-completely-off days, and it coincided with a cold snap. So after dealing with this all day, I finally got frustrated enough to send in a complaint. I sent one by email, then realized that probably wouldn't get dealt with quickly and did it by voicemail-- it's the landlady's two sons I'm contacting via this method. I pointed out in the voicemail that I've tried to live with the temperature but that my hands are going numb and that the thermostat says the house is in the low fifties which isn't a reasonable temperature to expect someone to live in. I did make a brief allusion to tenant laws, but it was just a one-sentence mention, no specifics. I'm aware I sounded upset, but apparently it's being read differently by someone, because...

Landlady comes upstairs after a while to turn on the heat, brusquely asks if I called her son, and then tells me that there was no need to be rude to him. I don't think it is rude to tell someone with whom you have a business relationship that the temperature isn't reasonable.

The thing that she did that I consider rude on her part, though, was that she proceeded to check to see if I was wearing slippers on my feet before turning the heat up, apparently on the theory that if I wasn't wearing them the heat didn't need to be on. My hands were going purple and numb and I was wearing a thick sweater; I don't think the slippers on my feet are the deciding factor in this case. And really I don't think it's her business whether I wear them or not. (She shoved them at me when I showed up without slippers because if you don't wear slippers in the house you'll get a cold/be cold. And was insistent about it even though I don't like slippers.)
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Minmom3 on January 13, 2013, 10:12:36 PM
Do you NOT have something heavier to wear?  Are there more blankets they could put on your bed?

Not a snarky question!  I get cold all day (no whole house heating here) and I put on a wool sweater, and I'm OK.  I have a fleece blanket on my bed under a good heavy down comforter.  I can sleep with the windows cracked open and still be good over night.  There are mornings I wake up and it's in the low 40's in the room.  I'm freezing as soon as I'm out from under the covers of the bed.  Low 50's for daytime is too chilly unless you were warned and brought lots of clothing.  Even without Reynaud's, that's too cold.  If they resolve it, good.  If they don't, I'd make an official complaint to the agency you got the unit through, telling them that the owners refuse to heat the house/room to reasonable temperatures and that this isn't workable for you.

I hope you get toasty warm soon!
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: johelenc1 on January 13, 2013, 10:18:09 PM
I would personally love to have my bedroom in the 50's.  I've been sleeping with the window open every night.  However, 50's would only work if I had nice comfy blankets as well.  That said, I think keeping a house in the 50's is pretty ridiculous. 

I would start taking pictures of the thermostat to prove the temperature.  I would also consider getting one of those clocks with a temp gauge and put it in your room and take pictures of that as well.  I would then call the landlord every single time the temperature gets below whatever you consider comfortable.  Well, maybe 65.   If comfortable is 76 for you, that's probably not reasonable.

Also, I know they are supposed to provide blankets, but this would not be a hill to die on... or freeze...on for me.  Either ask for more blankets or go get your own.  In fact, I would suggest getting a snuggly electric blanket.  Or...even better...a little heater:-)
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: oceanus on January 13, 2013, 10:31:10 PM
Quote
Or...even better...a little heater:-)

There ya go.  (not crazy about them because of the potential hazard but it beats freezing)  You can get one for about $12 at the dollar stores.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: doodlemor on January 13, 2013, 10:48:49 PM
I POD that you need a little heater.  An electric blanket would help, too.

These people are taking your money and trying to keep their utilities low at your expense.  So rude.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: JamFly on January 13, 2013, 11:27:55 PM
Given the way Landlady acted when the OP spoke to her son, I wouldn't think she'd take it well if the OP bought a heated blanket or small heater for her room.

Frankly, if I were the OP (and if it's possible financially and time wise) I'd just find another room to rent.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Rohanna on January 13, 2013, 11:36:05 PM
If you're renting through airbnb, you can complain and have their ability to host revoked as it says under hosting that :

"Climate: Ensure your home is properly ventilated and that temperature control is clearly marked and functional. Ensure guests are clear about how to safely use the heater."

Room temperature is generally defined as lying between 65 and 72, and if they aren't willing to keep it to a reasonable warmth, the company needs to know this.

Title: Re: Heat
Post by: johelenc1 on January 13, 2013, 11:36:56 PM
I can see how a heater could be objectionable, but an electric blanket shouldn't be a big deal.  I don't know how anyone would even know.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: marcel on January 13, 2013, 11:59:47 PM
There is one question i have after reading your story. Before the complaint, have you at any time, befoe sending the compalints, discussed the temperature with the landlady or her sons?

The whole putting it higher, putting it lower thing seems very PA to me, from both sides. I think you should have discussed the use of the heating with the landlady or her sons, after it had been urned down again two or three times, instead of having a silent thermostat war.

Thermostats are great in family homes, but can be a disaster in boarding houses and other places where several people live in their own rooms, and otherwise mostly independent from eachother. It is important that all people discuss the use of the thermostat in these situations, and find one setting to set and keep it on.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Raintree on January 14, 2013, 12:41:12 AM
Brrr. I feel your pain. I lived in a basement suite of a family home when I was a student, and it was SO cold!!! I don't know what the temperature was, but I know that it was warmer in their part of the house. I had thick sweaters, blankets, etc., and I tried studying while buried under a duvet and it didn't help. I wore a wool hat inside but I know I'm not warm enough when I find my nose is cold.

During the day, when they (landlords upstairs) were out at work, they turned the heat RIGHT down. I don't blame them as I do the same thing when I am out, but at exam time when there were no classes, I had to study in my suite during the day and it was pure awfulness.

I didn't actually speak to them about it because I didn't have a spine, and I didn't want to be the cause of increasing their heating bill, but in retrospect, if you're going to rent to someone, it has to be a comfortable temperature!!

I think while you had a valid complaint, it's possible that you did come across as a little rude without intending to be, as you admitted you were upset, and you said things like "It's not reasonable..." and mentioning laws, without ever having discussed this with them before. I don't blame you, but it might have come across better as, "I don't know if you're aware but my room is really, really cold. Is there any way we can turn up the heat? The temperature is in the low 50's and I also have Reynaud's Syndrome which affects me X, Y and Z ways..."

Then if they refused to turn the heat up you could increase it to, "It's not reasonable.....state laws stipulate that....the policy of airBnB is....."
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Chivewarrior on January 14, 2013, 01:10:17 AM
Looks like this is going to require a longer conversation with them, at any rate, as they turned it on for a couple of hours when I complained and then appear to have turned it back off again.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Raintree on January 14, 2013, 01:51:30 AM
Looks like this is going to require a longer conversation with them, at any rate, as they turned it on for a couple of hours when I complained and then appear to have turned it back off again.

Oh, great. I know heating is expensive but if your tenants are that uncomfortable....!!

I think it's reasonable to expect that people will wear warm clothing, ie I don't think it's reasonable for a tenant to expect to be warm enough in a t-shirt and shorts in winter, just because that is what they feel like wearing. But you said that's not the case with you; you wear a thick sweater (I bundled to the max in clothing that's normally only worn outdoors, in my cold suite, and was still cold).

But I wanted to offer a comment on slippers. I hated slippers too, until I discovered these nice slip-on sheepskin-lined ones (found them in a mall kiosk). They are SO toasty. So much better than just thick socks. They make my whole body feel warmer somehow. I took them with me to a family member's house where I stayed over Christmas. Normally I am ALWAYS cold in that house; it's drafty and they don't seem to keep the heat on much. This year I brought my sheepskin slippers and was just fine. It just took me a while to find slippers I liked!! They make a HUGE difference.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Shopaholic on January 14, 2013, 02:04:41 AM
Looks like this is going to require a longer conversation with them, at any rate, as they turned it on for a couple of hours when I complained and then appear to have turned it back off again.

Maybe it's time to look for another living arrangement... inconvenient as that may be, the landlords are clearly not very interested in your comfort. Another option is to renegotiate your rent so that you pay a little more to cover heating costs.

I think you may have annoyed her a bit by going directly to her sons in a formal manner and not asking her more casually. I might be a bit ticked off if a person staying at my house went tnad changed the thermostat for the entire house without letting me know or asking for permission.

How are your daily interactions with the landlady?
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: cicero on January 14, 2013, 02:52:00 AM
I am curious also - before you sent the email/called - had you ever raised the issue?

because if you haven't *ever* said anything to them, then I can understand why your landlady might think that you were OK with the heat as it was. and then it looks like "out of the blue" you are sending emails and calling - which even you agree you were probably a little upset.

I think you should definitely talk to them. it's unreasonable for the thermostat to be so low - and you are cold. the Reynaud Syndrome isn't an issue here - because it's cold even for people who *don't* have that. it's *cold*. slippers aren't an issue either - I'm not saying that the temp should be warm enough that you are able to walk around barefoot in a sundress, but it should be comfortable enough with a sweater on. ( I don't like slippers either - i wear flip flops at home).

Title: Re: Heat
Post by: CakeBeret on January 14, 2013, 10:07:54 AM
I am curious also - before you sent the email/called - had you ever raised the issue?

because if you haven't *ever* said anything to them, then I can understand why your landlady might think that you were OK with the heat as it was. and then it looks like "out of the blue" you are sending emails and calling - which even you agree you were probably a little upset.

I think you should definitely talk to them. it's unreasonable for the thermostat to be so low - and you are cold. the Reynaud Syndrome isn't an issue here - because it's cold even for people who *don't* have that. it's *cold*. slippers aren't an issue either - I'm not saying that the temp should be warm enough that you are able to walk around barefoot in a sundress, but it should be comfortable enough with a sweater on. ( I don't like slippers either - i wear flip flops at home).



Yup. Your OP sounded really PA and I'm not surprised the landlady was upset. In her mind, she probably thought everything was hunky-dory until someone got a voicemail calling them unreasonable and bringing up landlord-tenant laws. Your first step should have been a polite in-person conversation the first day you were too cold.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: GlassHalfFull on January 14, 2013, 10:10:14 AM
I can understand why the landlady may have felt a bit peeved if this is the first she's heard from you on the matter, but at least she responded.  On an slight tangent; I keep my home cool (cost and environmental reasons), and on colder days will wear fingerless gloves in the house.   It helps quite a bit!
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: EMuir on January 14, 2013, 10:12:58 AM
If you don't pay for electricity, I'd get an electric blanket and/or a space heater.   If you do pay for electricity, maybe just the electric blanket.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: rose red on January 14, 2013, 10:14:40 AM
Isn't there laws that landlords must keep heat at a certain temperature?  Or does that vary by state?  I'm not giving out legal advice except that perhaps you can look into that yourself.

eta: I see you already brought up tenant laws and it is not rude.  This is business and they need to run it correctly.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: JoieGirl7 on January 14, 2013, 10:55:10 AM
I've got some experienec renting thru airbnb and you have v ery little recourse.

You need to be painfully direct with your hostess.

Dont be apologetic, tell her that you need the room to be a certain temperature while you are there and she either needs to make it so or give you the remainder of your rent back so you can find another more suitable place to stay.

Remind her that you will be reviewing her listing and you would like it to be favorable but that honestly heat is a big issue and not just with you.

My son lives in LA and I was rather horrified to find that he has no heat.  H solved his problem by geting an electric throw.

I stayed at an airbnb property in Saratoga, CA in October and my room was chilly.  The host provided me with a small electric heater which was greatly appreciated--he was outstanding and I gave him a great review--would stay there again in a heartbeat.

A far as your slippers, her checking your feet for them is kind of an intimidation tactic.  She's trying to be the alpha dog here.

You are paying for a certain service and are not getting it.  You have the right to politely insist on it.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: lilfox on January 14, 2013, 12:48:03 PM
If you don't pay for electricity, I'd get an electric blanket and/or a space heater.   If you do pay for electricity, maybe just the electric blanket.

Agree with this - for a short term solution until the landlord is convinced to keep the temp at a reasonable level, an electric blanket or throw is the cheaper option.  At least in my case, when I tried the space heater in my room first to compensate for a poorly heated 100 yr old house, it wreaked havoc on our (shared) electric bill.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Harriet Jones on January 14, 2013, 12:58:12 PM
As an interim step, I think the electric blanket or similar would be a good idea.  Someone posted this in a different thread - it's halfway between a heating pad and electric mattress pad and is less than $20 http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sunbeam-Comfy-Toes-Foot-Warming-Pad-White/21596956 
It also shouldn't take up too much room, assuming you're trying to acquire as few things as possible while you're interning.

I've also seen the electric Snuggie, but that appears to be about $70.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: otterwoman on January 14, 2013, 01:39:29 PM
OP- I feel your pain. I also have Raynauds. If the temp goes below 65 degrees, my fingers go numb. An electric blanket won't help her much when she's awake, unless she only wants to wander within the reach of the electric cord. Heavy sweaters only help a little; once the body heat has left, you need heat to get it back. The landlord needs to keep the temp reasonable.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Harriet Jones on January 14, 2013, 01:45:59 PM
Then: heated gloves, the chemical "hot hands" things, those rice packs you can put in the microwave?
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Moray on January 14, 2013, 01:54:24 PM
OP, your expectation of a reasonable temperature is not out of line, but you need to speak directly with your landlord/hostess about this, not leave voicemails for her son.

If she doesn't fix the problem, find somewhere else to stay and report through airBnB.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: onyonryngs on January 14, 2013, 01:54:37 PM
I'm not sure why you just didn't ask the landlady to provide you with another blanket and to keep it a little warmer for you.  It's sort of like leaving negative feedback on ebay without contacting the seller to fix the issue.  Same with discussing the thermostat.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: CaptainObvious on January 14, 2013, 02:03:12 PM
There is no way I would buy or use a space heater without discussing it with the landlord. In some areas and structures they are strictly prohibited and I wouldn't take the chance.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Moray on January 14, 2013, 02:06:08 PM
Quote
Or...even better...a little heater:-)

There ya go.  (not crazy about them because of the potential hazard but it beats freezing)  You can get one for about $12 at the dollar stores.

I wouldn't buy something like that at the dollar store.  Not unless I wanted to set myself on fire.  Go to Lowes and get a decent little heater.  About $30.

OP, please do not put a space heater (from any store) in the room without specifically getting permission from the landlord/hostess. Just don't do it. It's a liability.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: sevenday on January 14, 2013, 02:07:40 PM
I would contact the landlord (the one who actually lives there) and ask to sit down with her.  Explain your condition, explain what AirBnB says about the rooms (climate/heat, etc) and express that the room has been entirely too cold for you.  Tell her point blank that you need the temperature to be at least X temperature.  If she cannot or is not willing to do that for you, tell her she needs to refund you (prorate or something) so you can find another place that CAN accommodate your needs.  If she says no, call her sons - there's a bit of ambiguity there.  Do the sons own the property and she's just there to manage it? If so, calling the sons is not out of line, since they're the ones that ultimately would need to refund you and so forth.   Also complain to AirBnB if she refuses.  They may not be able to help you in the interim while you're there, but you can leave appropriate feedback there.   Gloves/heat packs might help your hands in the meantime but I'm not sure what else I can suggest - since you're not a permanent resident there, buying relatively expensive electrical equipment (space heaters, electric blankets) probably isn't feasible.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Jaelle on January 14, 2013, 02:13:28 PM
I'm also with the OP here. That's not a reasonable temperature under any circumstances. Space heaters are dangerous and an expense. Electric blankets only keep you warm while you are under them. This is on the landlords to fix.

I do think she should have said something to the on-site landlord before escalating, but I do understand snapping under the strain. It made me wince to read the OP, and my hands are hurting in sympathy.   :-\
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: thedudeabides on January 14, 2013, 03:13:39 PM
Just talk to the landlord and be straightforward. She probably got defensive because you hadn't told her there was a problem.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: JoieGirl7 on January 14, 2013, 06:42:17 PM
I don't buy that the hostess was unaware of the problem.  She is most likely the one turning off the heat so that the OP cannot turn up the thermostat and have it go on.

If she can't take a hint that the OP is cold from noticing that her thermostat is up, she's dense.

Also, if the hostess did not want any of her guests contacting her sons, then I doubt that any of her guests would have the number to call them.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Chivewarrior on January 14, 2013, 08:54:04 PM
The sons are the ones running it; the landlady actually lives in the house but the sons are the ones running the business side of things; we're given their number to call if there's a problem. I'm not actually entirely sure *where* she lives in the house; process of elimination suggests it's the basement somewhere. The phone call was largely because I never actually see any of them.

Heat seems to be on for now and I did go out and buy a blanket just because there are levels of cold I *can't* live with. Now we'll see if it stays on. I'm only here for another month (it's a very short internship), so finding another place to live would be kind of challenging since the residential hotels of San Francisco go beyond cold into actively dangerous.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: onikenbai on January 14, 2013, 09:21:38 PM
I also have Raynaud's and it can be hard to get your hands warm once they get cold.  It's like wrapping an ice cube in layers of insulation: it only keeps the cold in and does nothing to solve the problem.  Really I find the easiest solution to get my hands warm is the basic old hot water bottle.  Heaters and blankets don't provide concentrated enough heat for me to be effective and my whole body is sweltering before the circulation returns to my hands.  With the hot water bottle you can really wrap it around your fingers where you need it most.  Those hot pockets don't work as they're too hot to start out with and cool off too fast.  Plus they're fidgety, while the hot water bottle you just dump the water and get new from the tap.

No doubt your place is too cold though!
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: oceanus on January 14, 2013, 09:24:59 PM
The sons are the ones running it; the landlady actually lives in the house but the sons are the ones running the business side of things; we're given their number to call if there's a problem. I'm not actually entirely sure *where* she lives in the house; process of elimination suggests it's the basement somewhere. The phone call was largely because I never actually see any of them.

Heat seems to be on for now and I did go out and buy a blanket just because there are levels of cold I *can't* live with. Now we'll see if it stays on. I'm only here for another month (it's a very short internship), so finding another place to live would be kind of challenging since the residential hotels of San Francisco go beyond cold into actively dangerous.

???
hmmm.  This must be a very large house.

Well, since it's only another month it would be more hassle to find another place and move.  So, hope it's tolerable for the remainder of your stay.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: JoieGirl7 on January 15, 2013, 01:30:35 AM
By the way, its a good idea that when they turn the heat off that whatever method of communication you use, that you also use airbnb to say the same thing so that there is a record of it with them.

When your stay is done and it comes time to leave feedback, you can say that there were problems with the heat and there is documented communications to back up what you are saying.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: AreaWoman on January 15, 2013, 04:24:02 PM
Chivewarrior, based on your description, I thought you might be in SF -- let me just say that I recognize completely the kind of family you are dealing with, and you have my sympathies.  It has been colder here the past two weeks than I can recall in my nearly 10 years of living here, so part of it is that people just aren't used to it and don't know what to do.  But your landlord family is being out and out cheap.  It is utterly ridiculous for someone to expect you to wear slippers or heavy clothing -- it is almost always 65 degrees here, so that kind of winter clothing is not something most of us have.

If you can stick out for another month, that might work, particularly since it is supposed to get back closer to normal later this week.  If you do need other options, you might also try Craigslist or some of the local colleges (USF, Hastings, UCSF, SF State and City College).  No idea if they have resources available for non-students, but I had luck when I was in grad school with an apartment swap with a student at another school.  Best of luck to you!
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: marcel on January 16, 2013, 08:22:33 AM
I still do not see anywhere in your posts that you have tried talking with people at any point before you started complaining, so I will asume that you haven't.

Given that you did not try to comunicate, I hold you equaly responsible for problems you have.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Twik on January 16, 2013, 08:35:53 AM
I'm not sure that asking would be helpful for dealing with a landlord who leaves the temperature set at unlivable levels. To my mind, that indicates that they are deliberately skimping on heating costs, to the detriment of their tenants. However, I suppose that the best approach is to start off by acting as if you assume it's been done by accident or inattention, rather than assume the worst motivation first. Just have a next step planned, when they claim that 50 F is a perfectly acceptable living temperature.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: JoieGirl7 on January 19, 2013, 08:51:36 AM
Chewarrior is not the only one experience this problem.

Iam presently staying in an airbnb property in LA.  Right now,  the temp outside is about 57.

The temp in the living room was 68 when I went to bed and 60  bit ago when I went to use the bathroom.

There is no heating duct in my bathroom and its very cold in there.  And then I find out that she opened the window in there and left it open!!!

She did give me a portable eletric radiant heater for my bedroom, it actually makes the room too hot if I leave it on and too cold if I turn it off.   :(

Plus, her electric bill is going to be muh higher than if she wukd just turn the heat on in the house!

I am going to try an talk to her about it later today.  There is a bit of a language barrier so we'll see how it goes.

But, I cannot live with it like this!
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 20, 2013, 01:42:44 AM
I just did a temperature conversion, since I'm not familiar with Fahrenheit. 50 degree F is equivalent to only 10 degrees Celsius!

I'm with Twik and Audrey Quest. Surely the landlady must realise how cold it is. It does sound like they're deliberately skimping on their heating costs. I'd definitely tell them that it's not possible to function properly when it's that cold. If they refuse to do anything about it, I guess you're a bit stuck. But you should definitely leave a negative review on the website.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: JoieGirl7 on January 20, 2013, 05:57:06 AM
I am apparently out of luck.  My hostess turns the heat off at night because she doesnt like the sound it makes! :o

Well, I have an electric heater on in my room all night long pretty much.  I dont like the sound it makes but i woukd rather not freeze!

Using the bathroom is still kind of an issue but she agreed to let me use her bathroom at night as it is just outside my bedroom door, so at least I dont have to  walk through the cold house to get to mine.  And hers might be just a bit warmer because it has only one outside all instead of two.
Title: Re: Heat
Post by: Tea Drinker on January 20, 2013, 10:18:28 AM
If it's really a noise issue, would she be willing to turn the heat up for an hour or two before bedtime, so the house will take longer to cool down?

Separate from that, this definitely belongs in a review on the Airbnb site: "The house gets cold at night, and host refuses to leave the heat on when asked, because she doesn't like the sound it makes. Blankets are much too thin, especially for a room that gets down to 50F/10C on winter nights."