what is considered adequate heating for a house with only electric baseboards?

I just moved into an old house, and it's proving to be more than a little chilly. The climate here is cold, with -20C not uncommon in the winter, and at least a few days of -40 most winters. The house has 10 rooms in total, five up and five down, and many large single pane windows upstairs, concrete floors and walls downstairs. The entire house is "heated" by only three electric baseboard heaters; two upstairs and one downstairs. The three electric heaters were originally meant to be supplemental to an oil furnace, but the furnace broke down and was removed a few months before we moved in, it was never replaced. The landlords (verbally) assured us the house would be adequately heated with the three baseboard heaters, and that our electric heating bills would be about $100/month, and that the house had significant solar heat gain due to the large windows. Our bills turned out to be nearly triple that amount, and we still have not been able to heat the house to standard room temperature without buying supplemental space heaters. We have not detected any solar heat as of yet, as there is minimal southern exposure, the windows do not face the sun.

When we contacted the landlord and complained that we couldn't get the rooms upstairs or downstairs up to 20 degrees C , even with the heaters turned up to 30 or 35C settings they told us that we weren't actually cold, and recommended turning the heat off completely at night to save money on heating costs ,heating only one room at a time, and huddling under blankets in the unheated bedroom.

I am concerned that the frost and condensation on the windows will cause mould problems, and that the electric heaters are being pushed past their safe capacity, all while still not being warm enough to be comfortable.

I cannot find any published standards for British Columbia regarding what heating standards are for the health, safety and comfort of tenants. Or what is requirements for number of baseboard heaters vs size of house. Vancouver has Standards of Maintenance bylaws, but those don't apply in this municipality.

Recommendations on what to do? Resources? I have not heard back from Tenants Rights Advisory Council.

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'm very familiar with The British Columbia Residential Tenancy Act. It is good that you are in contact with TRAC. They will be able to advocate on your behalf.

    The existing electric baseboards were never intended to heat the entire home. Shame on the landlord for leading you to believe this.

    There was a story of a B.C. landlord who wanted to save money so he would shut off the furnace on or around May 24th and not fire it up again until after Labour Day. He did this to cut down on his heating bill. The tenant went after him for a reduction in a service or facility and quickly won.

    In a building where the landlord is supplying heat as part and parcel of the tenancy, heating it at a reasonable temperature is held to be a material term of the tenancy agreement. The key word is "reasonable". Expecting all room temperatures to be at 20C [68F] is not unreasonable at all- especially in the winter time. If he is in breach of this for whatever reason then you may be in a very good legal position to end the tenancy and/or seek monetary compensation because of his failure to provide an adequate essential service. He must not just provide heat, it must be reasonable and adequate otherwise there is a safety/health issue. A dispute officer would determine what is considered "reasonable" heat for where you live.

    It is expensive to move out and who wants to move in the dead of winter so I recommend that you advise your landlord, in writing, that you view the denial of [adequate] heat to your rental premises as a breach of a fundamental part of your tenancy agreement. Set out what you want done, and by when, and how, and indicate that you may be prepared to involve authorities if the situation isn't remedied.

    Conscientious landlords recognize that stable tenants are critical to their financial well-being. If push comes to shove, it looks like you would have a case for arbitration- especially given the fact that the baseboard heaters were only meant to supplement the main source of heat for the house which was the oil furnace. Your landlord is a complete and total jerk for subjecting you to this! If you get no action file a complaint with the Residential Tenancy Dispute Office. Your landlord will be sorted in no time. There is one located in Burnaby but it sounds like you are located somewhere in the interior or north. Check on line for the Residential Dispute Office nearest you.

    By the way do not assume that heaters can be run 24/7. Many have an automatic shut off if they begin to overheat. Sometimes these do not always work. Heaters have also been known to get knocked over and cause fires when unattended. They also draw a considerable amount of energy so I would be aware of the condition and age of the wiring in your place. Multiple space heaters are not intended to replace a major conventional heating source.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Your heating bill will be more then your rent.

    You signed a lease knowing it was electric so as long as the registers are working , the landlord has no responsibility for the amount of heat produced.

    Never rent a place with electric heating.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Sadly OIL remains cheaper and more efficient. Unless you want to invest long term in your own generator for electricity then you have to choose oil or wind/solar power.

  • 10 years ago

    The heaters are safe, you can run them 24/7 without any safety worries.

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