Landlording Advice - Utilities

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Landlording Problems - Utilities

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Q: My tenant has stopped using the furnace to heat my home. He has shut the pilot light off. To save money. He had been paying $80 equalized payments in gas for this house in Nelson B.C. He says it is a non renewable fuel and now uses an electric heater for the upstairs. ( He drys his clothes on a line upstairs.) I am concerned about moisture damage to the house.
The home is an upstairs with a downstairs basement with concrete walls and 2/3 under ground and some exposed rock, (covered with plastic) The building inspectors tell me that this lack of heat in the basement (from the furnace ducts ) will damage the house.
Someone at RTA seems to think that shutting off the pilot light is putting my house at risk. That sounded odd so I called again. Another phone call told me that not using the primary heating source with the proof of a bldg inspector stating that puts house at risk is grounds for 1 month eviction for cause. I want to verify this.

The rent, at $788, is already 100 dollars below market rent for a house in Nelson. I am not eager to incur another cost with electric heaters. I can't afford this tenant. The building inspector also said a dehumidifier would not do the job.
I am temporarily renting out my home while I am in Victoria. I am not in the biz of renting homes.
I expressed my concerns of needing the radiant heat from the ducts in the basement to the tenant and he says it is not his responsibility or obligation to use the furnace because it wasn't in the rental agreement.
Is this true?
He agreed when moving in, to pay gas costs and has done so for 5 yrs. Does that not constitute an agreement to use the furnace?
Do I have a chance at evicting him with a 1 month notice for cause? For putting my property at significant risk.
Can I legally expect him, as he is renting the whole house, minus 1 room in the basement, to be responsible for the whole house by using the furnace or alternately using a small heater in the basement.?

A: Sounds to me like you want confirmation from everyone you can reach, before you move against your tenant. You've contacted the RTO twice, and now you've contacted me. I'm going to give you pretty much the same advice you have, evidently, already received - which is that as a landlord you can move to protect your rights and interests if you think your tenant is about to inflict some damage to your property. Firstly, however, I'd write the tenant a letter expressing your concerns, and advise him in writing that if he won't turn on the heat then you will be likely to issue him a notice to end the tenancy under section 47 of the Act, and which states: (1) A landlord may end a tenancy by giving notice to end the tenancy if one or more of the following applies: ...(the tenant) has seriously jeopardized the health or safety or a lawful right or interest of the landlord or another occupant; or has put the landlord's property at significant risk. You might also have an argument that the tenant has jeopardized or is likely to jeopardize a lawful right or interest of another occupant or the landlord. So, my advice? Advise the tenant in writing what you are worried about, and why, and advise the tenant in writing about what you intend to do if he doesn't do what you request. Then act. And thanks for the $20 donation. I don't have any real connection with the African Preschools charity but by answering questions like these on the internet for a $20 donation, a significant amount of money has been raised for a very worthwhile cause. I thank you, on their behalf, for your contribution! $20 goes a long way and makes a very real difference in the lives of many who would otherwise go without.


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