Does the landlord or tenant pay to clean the chimney?

Asked by Dylan, San Francisco, CA Sat Dec 22, 2012

I rent a two bedroom in San Francisco. The apartment building I live in has 15 units and was constructed in the 1950s.

The unit contains a fireplace which was obviously a selling point. At the end of last winter I noticed that the apartment was filling up with smoke when I used the fireplace. I'd like to use it again this season but cleaning it is about $180. Who is responsible for paying for this?

I had assumed the landlord because if the place catches fire due to lack of maintenance, it's their building that goes up. However the Internet is ambiguous about this. Anyone?


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Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Sat Dec 22, 2012
First let me say that if it was a property under my managment I'd recommend the owner take care of it. The reasons are; it isn't something that every tenant needs to do like clean the carpets, it isn't normal wear and tear, the inspection can show up failures that the owner should know about and the quality of the work often is based on the longevity of the service relationship i.e. the tech does a better job if they might get called back again.
Second there are many reasons why smoke doesn't go up the chimney, it might not be just a case of cleaning. One of the main reasons I've discovered is the wind blowing down the chimney. The spark arrestor that sits above the chimney is often just the "T" type and with winds coming from different directions it can completly overpower the draft of hot air rising.
The best caps are the "Spanish Helmet" style that have only one opening and a vane to keep the opening away from the direction of the wind. The worst are the turbine ventilator covers. These are not intended for chimney application. They are meant to vent warehouses where it is warm air not hot air. The bearings get so noisey that your neighbors will hate you late at night from the screeching!
3 votes
Those are great reasons for having the landlord clean the chimney-- do you mind if I steal them when I'm petitioning mine? I agree, it seems like it's better for everyone if the landlord handles that. The chimney certainly needs to be cleaned, but owners aren't generally going to think about it unless there's a problem.
Flag Mon Mar 30, 2015
Gabrielle Da…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Dec 22, 2012

Check your rental agreement in regards to this specific item/issue, then call the landlord or the property manager.
1 vote
Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Sat Dec 22, 2012
You should look at what it states in your rental agreement. It should specify who is responsible for what. If it does not, ask your landlord before having it done.
1 vote
Oggi Kashi, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Dec 22, 2012
Usually all work that is routine maintenance for the property would be the responsibility of the landlord. When it comes to health and safety issues, it would be smart for the landlord to take care of the maintenance item ASAP to reduce his liability and to protect his investment.
1 vote
Sofia Palumbo, , San Francisco, CA
Sat Dec 22, 2012
The landlord has a duty to maintain rental properties suitable for occupancy. Also they must maintain common areas. When the landlord does not fulfill this requirement , may be liable for damages.
Find out if the fireplace by not being cleaned, would cause potential hazard, If so, present this information and he will likely want to absorb the cost.
1 vote
This is true-- the clogged chimney could result in health hazards or added fire danger when you use the fireplace. If you talk to your landlord, I'm sure they'll be willing to compromise with you. And until then, I don't think you should use your fireplace as much.
Jenn |
Flag Fri Nov 14, 2014
Toby Jackson, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Dec 22, 2012

Check your lease and see if there are any clauses regarding maintenance of the unit.



Toby Jackson
Better Homes & Gardens/Mason-McDuffie Real Estate
2200 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
Mobile: 415-627-8200
Office: 415-921-0113
1 vote
Phillipnihau, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Thu Jun 1, 2017
can another tanent charge another tanent money to keep hallways and lanai clean
0 votes
Phillipnihau, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Thu Jun 1, 2017
does another tenat has a right to charge another tanat to clean hall ways an lanai
0 votes
Lisa Wetzel…, Agent, Gardnerville, NV
Sat Dec 22, 2012
I agree with Sophia ... this should fall into the category of rental suitability. Check your rental agreement to make sure yu didn't agree to this task and then contact your owner or management company.

Lisa Wetzel
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates
1320 Hwy 395
Gardnerville, NV 89410
0 votes
I have a rental unit that with a woodburning fireplace. When the tenants moved in, we agreed to have it cleaned the first time and if they used it, they would have cleaned, just as the carpets and toilets were all cleaned before they moved in and they are responsible for the maintenance and cleaning. We are renewing the lease and the tenant now refuses to pay for the cleaning and says we should be responsible. We have no mention of it in the lease. What should we do? These tenants have been a real pain about every little thing - we just fixed a faucet that dripped every minute or two - and we have been very quick to take care of everything.
Flag Fri Jun 20, 2014
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