October 07 2016
Living in Brooklyn

Renter Blues, AC Edition

renter landlord stressRenting instead of owning is definitely not my preference.  We do it because we have no choice.  Though we do enjoy the upside of being debt-free, including mortgage-free.  But there are times when you cannot help but being extremely frustrated by the lack of control that is present in your life when you rent.

Case in point:

My husband and I spent our night having a contentious and extremely unpleasant phone conversation with our landlord, discussing his demand that we amend our lease to agree to professional installation of our air conditioners, at our expense, in order to please his insurance company.

This is a great example of how the financial services industry just fleeces people.   Because I have never once heard of an air-conditioner falling on someone.  I have heard of many other things falling on people and, in fact, I am paranoid on windy days in NYC because things are constantly falling off buildings and injuring or killing people – masonry, construction material… cranes!

But air-conditioners?  The NYPD does not compile data on how often they fall out and injure someone, but by all accounts it is exceedingly rare.  So, score for the insurance industry.

We asked our landlord what exactly this requirement entails and how much it will cost.  He could not tell us.  We asked if we could get all the details before changing our lease and he went off the deep end, turning into an Olympic-gold-medal-Catholic-guilt-inducing-martyr-mother.  He has treated us so well… he has kept our rent down… he is not going to be able to sleep tonight because we are so ungrateful and clearly our relationship is never going to be the same.

Oy vey.  Super sensitive landlord + evil insurance industry = we lose.  We finally just agreed on the spot to sign whatever he wanted because we could not take the interminable emotional drama and the guilting.  The fact is, as renters we simply have no control.  He does charge us rent that is below market rate.  He dropped his usual bomb that always shuts us up: “I’m sure other landlords would be charging you $200 or $300 more than I do.”  My husband and I shared an ominous glance.  Try $1K more.

It is stressful to be reminded that you lack control in life.  Though, of course, it’s possible that any perceived control that we do have is a fantasy anyway.

So we chalked it up and are just dealing with it.  Doing lots of walking meditations today as I hurry from errand to errand and deep, deep breathing.  We’re heading out of town in a few days and I’m just trying to keep my eye on the prize and not give in to rumination or to stoke my own stress and frustration.

Does your landlord make you pay to have your AC professionally installed?

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  • Youch – that sounds awful! On my end though, if say home ownership isn’t significantly better because the insurance company could still demand you have it done 🙂

    The roughest part from my perspective is the “surprise” expenses. If I can at least plan for them they don’t seem so painful!

  • Yikes. That’s annoying.

    I went from renting from a landlord to renting from a management company. It’s tougher to get under market price from a management company, but it has been so so much less stressful. Anything that we need fixed gets fixed, usually within a few hours, at no cost to us. Drains backed up? Fixed for free within an hour. Bath tub scratched up? New liner installed completely free. AC not working? Repairman is in with the tools to fix it for free the same day. Getting used to this will make it difficult to transition when we end up buying a place.

    At a thousand dollars below market value, though, I could see myself putting up with some inconveniences.

    • Seriously! It’s what has kept us where we are. Prices have gone up so much around us that, anyplace else we moved to, we’d be in a smaller, not as nice apartment and paying more! But yes, we have a “super” who we have to text 500 times before he responds to us for anything that is not an emergency. Would be nice to be dealing with professionals… -Linda

  • I had no idea that A/C’s had to be properly installed for insurance companies. Always something…

    I defintely hate being guilted into something. I feel like when I am being guilted that I am actually being manipulated.

    I much prefer a win/win solution where you the renter feel like you’re getting a benefit from the A/C installation and the landlord is getting something as well.

    But flat out being guilted into something is awful.

  • Yikes! This seems really crazy. Everyone in NYC has window units. Why is his insurance company freaking out about it? On the other hand, those indoor units are SO much cooler and more effective than a window unit, and if next summer is anything like this summer you will be thankful.

    Hopefully the installation doesn’t cost too much. Good luck!

    • Really – are they good? I will definitely look into an indoor one next summer. Sounds like more and more landlords are doing this now. Just to make things even more difficult/ expensive/ annoying.

  • That is a weird requirement, I’ve never heard of anyone having their window ac professionally installed. Then again until we moved in May we always lived in semi rural areas.

    We had one of those portable ac units at one of our rentals that could be a workaround for this requirement though. The unit itself was in the room, then there was a vent that went to the window, there was a piece of plastic that you shut in the window and attached the vent to. Nothing stuck outside of the window. The unit itself cost us $175 and that was 7 years ago so maybe there’s better prices on them now.

    I liked the unit because I could use it in our bedroom at night. Then when we woke I could remove the vent, roll it to the living room and attach it out there. I had to empty out the water bucket under it every other day but I was not difficult to do.

    • I’m going to have to look into that. Because the thing I don’t like, as much as the unknown cost, is not being able to put my AC in and take it out at the exact moment I want. It’s annoying to not have control of simple things like that…

  • That sounds like a tense and frustrating situation. The overall feeling I got when I read your post was feeling “stuck”, with no other options. It’s unfortunate you can’t at least get a close estimate as to how much it’s going to cost you!

    We’ve had many, many “surprise” expenses in our 17 years of home-ownership but, I guess, at least we had some degree of control over who did the work and the cost (to an extent).

    Hope you’re feeling a bit better now and enjoy your trip, Linda!!! 🙂

  • This is my first visit to your blog.

    It is nice that your landlord is charging you below market rate rent. That’s a good thing. This is a frustrating situation – in the grand scheme of things, a few weeks later, you will sit back and laugh about the conversation you had with your landlord.
    This too shall pass.

    Grass always looks greener on the other side. We owned and rented, and now we own.

    Whether you rent or own, you are going to have to deal with some kind of challenge.

    One thing I would like to point and request that you pause and ponder about – “we don’t have a choice.”

    The truth is we all have the power to choose. You could always move to a place where you could afford to own a home.

    Have you read the book – “Who moved my cheese?” You might like it.

    • Thank you for visiting Michael, and commenting! You are so right – these stresses do pass. In the grand scheme of life, it is not important. And you are also right about my power to choose – living where I do is my choice. I could live somewhere where I could afford to own. But now that would just be too easy, right? lol

    1. Michael 04:16pm 12 October - 2016 - Reply

      This is my first visit to your blog.

      It is nice that your landlord is charging you below market rate rent. That’s a good thing. This is a frustrating situation – in the grand scheme of things, a few weeks later, you will sit back and laugh about the conversation you had with your landlord.
      This too shall pass.

      Grass always looks greener on the other side. We owned and rented, and now we own.

      Whether you rent or own, you are going to have to deal with some kind of challenge.

      One thing I would like to point and request that you pause and ponder about – “we don’t have a choice.”

      The truth is we all have the power to choose. You could always move to a place where you could afford to own a home.

      Have you read the book – “Who moved my cheese?” You might like it.

      • Brooklyn Bread 01:30pm 17 October - 2016 - Reply

        Thank you for visiting Michael, and commenting! You are so right – these stresses do pass. In the grand scheme of life, it is not important. And you are also right about my power to choose – living where I do is my choice. I could live somewhere where I could afford to own. But now that would just be too easy, right? lol

    2. Amanda @ centsiblyrich 04:18pm 09 October - 2016 - Reply

      That sounds like a tense and frustrating situation. The overall feeling I got when I read your post was feeling “stuck”, with no other options. It’s unfortunate you can’t at least get a close estimate as to how much it’s going to cost you!

      We’ve had many, many “surprise” expenses in our 17 years of home-ownership but, I guess, at least we had some degree of control over who did the work and the cost (to an extent).

      Hope you’re feeling a bit better now and enjoy your trip, Linda!!! 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 01:31pm 17 October - 2016 - Reply

        Thanks Amanda! Back from our trip, refreshed and feeling much better prepared to deal with this nuisance!

    3. Amy 02:45pm 08 October - 2016 - Reply

      That is a weird requirement, I’ve never heard of anyone having their window ac professionally installed. Then again until we moved in May we always lived in semi rural areas.

      We had one of those portable ac units at one of our rentals that could be a workaround for this requirement though. The unit itself was in the room, then there was a vent that went to the window, there was a piece of plastic that you shut in the window and attached the vent to. Nothing stuck outside of the window. The unit itself cost us $175 and that was 7 years ago so maybe there’s better prices on them now.

      I liked the unit because I could use it in our bedroom at night. Then when we woke I could remove the vent, roll it to the living room and attach it out there. I had to empty out the water bucket under it every other day but I was not difficult to do.

      • Brooklyn Bread 05:52pm 08 October - 2016 - Reply

        I’m going to have to look into that. Because the thing I don’t like, as much as the unknown cost, is not being able to put my AC in and take it out at the exact moment I want. It’s annoying to not have control of simple things like that…

    4. heidi @ City Ambition 10:19pm 07 October - 2016 - Reply

      Yikes! This seems really crazy. Everyone in NYC has window units. Why is his insurance company freaking out about it? On the other hand, those indoor units are SO much cooler and more effective than a window unit, and if next summer is anything like this summer you will be thankful.

      Hopefully the installation doesn’t cost too much. Good luck!

      • Brooklyn Bread 10:56am 08 October - 2016 - Reply

        Really – are they good? I will definitely look into an indoor one next summer. Sounds like more and more landlords are doing this now. Just to make things even more difficult/ expensive/ annoying.

    5. Mustard Seed Money 09:56pm 07 October - 2016 - Reply

      I had no idea that A/C’s had to be properly installed for insurance companies. Always something…

      I defintely hate being guilted into something. I feel like when I am being guilted that I am actually being manipulated.

      I much prefer a win/win solution where you the renter feel like you’re getting a benefit from the A/C installation and the landlord is getting something as well.

      But flat out being guilted into something is awful.

      • Brooklyn Bread 05:56pm 08 October - 2016 - Reply

        Seriously – I get enough guilt from my mom! I don’t need my landlord guilting me that I don’t pay enough homage!

    6. Matt @ Optimize Your Life 06:50pm 07 October - 2016 - Reply

      Yikes. That’s annoying.

      I went from renting from a landlord to renting from a management company. It’s tougher to get under market price from a management company, but it has been so so much less stressful. Anything that we need fixed gets fixed, usually within a few hours, at no cost to us. Drains backed up? Fixed for free within an hour. Bath tub scratched up? New liner installed completely free. AC not working? Repairman is in with the tools to fix it for free the same day. Getting used to this will make it difficult to transition when we end up buying a place.

      At a thousand dollars below market value, though, I could see myself putting up with some inconveniences.

      • Brooklyn Bread 08:31pm 07 October - 2016 - Reply

        Seriously! It’s what has kept us where we are. Prices have gone up so much around us that, anyplace else we moved to, we’d be in a smaller, not as nice apartment and paying more! But yes, we have a “super” who we have to text 500 times before he responds to us for anything that is not an emergency. Would be nice to be dealing with professionals… -Linda

    7. Chris @ KeepThrifty 05:06pm 07 October - 2016 - Reply

      Youch – that sounds awful! On my end though, if say home ownership isn’t significantly better because the insurance company could still demand you have it done 🙂

      The roughest part from my perspective is the “surprise” expenses. If I can at least plan for them they don’t seem so painful!

      • Brooklyn Bread 06:04pm 07 October - 2016 - Reply

        Totally – it is always the unknowns that stress you. If he just said “this is going to cost you $150 next summer when you put your AC back in, it would be no big deal.

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