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A Very Heated Argument, Part 2

, , , , | Right | July 6, 2023

In the 1990s, I was the emergency maintenance man for a few apartment buildings in Minnesota. We took in a new tenant in July one year, and this story took place in October of the same year. We had an early cold snap that year, so it was already close to freezing temperatures.

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] with [Rental Company]. How can I help you?”

Tenant: “Hi, I think my heater is broken. I’m trying to get it going, but it’s not warming up in here at all.”

Me: “Can I get your apartment building and number, and we can set up a time for me to come take a look at it?”

We set up a time and I head over. As soon as I get in, I spot the problem.

Me: “Sir, have you had the window open all along?”

Tenant: “Yeah, I like having a bit of fresh air coming in. The heater is over here.”

I walk over and see that the heater is turned on full blast, and confirm it is definitely working by holding my hand near it. I call the tenant over and try to figure out how to give him the news without insulting him.

Me: “If you put your hand here, you can tell the heater is working. It just doesn’t put out enough heat to keep up with having the window open. As soon as you close the window, the room will warm right up.”

This was apparently not the right approach.

Tenant: “I’m not closing the window! I can’t sleep without fresh air. I want the heater replaced with the best unit you’ve got.”

Me: “Sir, you already have the best heater system we have. No heater can keep up with winter weather if you have the window open. You’ll either need to close the window or get used to bundling up in warm clothes.”

Tenant: “I’m not doing that! I’ll just buy some space heaters, and I better get reimbursed for them.”

Me: “Space heaters are forbidden in this building. They’re a major fire hazard, and if too many of them get plugged in, it could trip the circuit breakers. I’m telling you, the standard heater works fine, but you have to close the window.”

With that, I left. I let the building manager know what was going on, and he promised to send an official written notice to the tenant reminding him of the ban on space heaters and recommending that he simply close the window and let the regular heater do its job. 

A few weeks later, I got a call from a different tenant in that building complaining that they had lost power. The circuit breakers had been tripped, and my investigation proved that the new tenant had set up at least four space heaters in his apartment because he still had the window open.

The building manager gave him a final written notice that any more problems will force them to start the eviction process against him. Not even two weeks later, the circuit breaker tripped again, and once again, I found the space heaters plugged in in his apartment. His eviction was finalized about a month later, and surprisingly, he moved out without much of a fight. Apparently, the combination of “not having a working heater” and “massive electric bills” convinced him that this wasn’t the best place for him after all.

A Very Heated Argument

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