Q: My place has been miserably hot and I’d like to have a window air conditioner installed. How can I convince my landlord that it’s a good idea?

A: Make it easy for your landlord to say yes. Start by doing the legwork, including calculating the size appliance you’ll need and the approximate cost for installation. Once you’ve assembled the facts, the landlord may appreciate how easy and mutually beneficial it is to have the appliance put in.

Window-mounted units are most commonly used because they’re versatile; they can either be permanently or temporarily installed. They also work with most existing electrical wiring. Note that installing an air conditioner unit at a double-hung window is less expensive than at a sliding window, which may require an installation kit.

To calculate the cost of the appliance, first know what size you’re looking for. Air conditioner capacity is rated in British thermal units, or BTUs. The higher the BTU rating, the more area the unit can keep cool. Calculating the proper BTU isn’t difficult; several Web sites provide instant BTU suggestions based on room size, insulation and proximity to heat sources, such as kitchens or southern exposure. All you’ll need is a tape measure and common sense to get started.

Where to shop for air conditioners? They are sold practically everywhere electronics are sold. While warehouse, hardware and Internet sources stock air conditioners, installation may not be included. Because installing units is not usually a first-timer, do-it-yourself project, get quotes from appliance stores that both deliver and install their units. That way, the owner is assured it will be a professional job. Also, if the product is under warranty, it can be repaired or replaced with a minimum of hassle.

When you’re ready to make the pitch to your landlord, point out that the fixture remains with the property, increasing its value. If the landlord still balks, pinpoint the objection; if it’s financial you can offer to split the cost or pay for installation.

Q: I rent a two-bedroom unit that has one parking space. I was told by a neighbor that I’m entitled to two spaces because of the size of my unit. Is that true?

A: Unfortunately, the size of the unit has no bearing on the number of spaces a unit is given. In fact, some places have no parking space included with the place at all. How can you tell what your allocation is? It should be part of your written rental agreement, usually on the first page of standard forms. Anyone signing an agreement should take note of this information. If the agreement is silent on the subject, ask the manager or landlord to specify the parking situation in writing.

Q: Is it worth renting a place that has only street parking?

A: It depends on the street and the comparable rents. If you’re interested in a place that has only street parking, do your homework. Start by knowing the rental amounts for the area — with and without allocated parking. You can find out by just phoning and asking what parking is included with a rental.

How can you tell if street parking will work for the area? Take a look at the neighborhood; are there any adjacent commercial businesses, especially restaurants, shopping or entertainment spots? Be especially wary if any valet parking is offered by nearby businesses, especially restaurants. Come dinnertime, you may be hungry for a parking space in front of your home. If there is permit parking for residents only, that may help ease the crunch.

Consider the fact that permit parking is not free. Residents usually pay a nominal fee for obtaining a permit through the city, which may require a trip to the local agency with a copy of the lease, utility bill or other proof. Find out the details required by your locale before heading down and waiting in line.

Vehicles with handicapped permits are allowed to park in permitted areas without charge, but like everyone else, can be ticketed for parking on street-cleaning days.

Know the limitations. Some areas have specific time restrictions for unpermitted vehicles ranging from no parking anytime to two-hour parking. The stricter the time limit, the less hunting time may be needed by permitted residents.

You can also ask if any on-site parking becomes available, and if so, what the additional cost will be. As a convenience, ask if driveway or alley parking is allowed for loading and unloading. As a minimum, it’s nice to have a spot to run in from with groceries and the like.


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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