03.08.14 Caved in Ceiling
We bought a duplex in 2010 with a 10-15 year old adequate roof. Our prior tenants let a hole in the ceiling develop (never contacted us), traced back to the improper installation of a satellite dish. We were in the process of fixing it when our newest tenant saw the unit and moved in, since it was a more time consuming project.
This week the Pacific Northwest got pummeled with a storm. A winter storm warning was issued, for wind gusts of 25+ mph and up to 6 inches of rain. It was a bad storm.
In the middle of the storm, in the late evening, we got a call that the spare bedroom (same room as earlier ceiling issue) was leaking water. Our handyman was an hour away and not available for an emergency visit. We took plastic over to cover belongings and made plans to address it first thing in the morning. Our handyman determined that the rain blew under the shingles and got into the attic due to the underlayment not being quite right, seeing no evidence of a long standing issue. He took care of the issue, drained the water from the attic, and said it would take some time to dry out.
Late that evening, the ceiling in the corner of the spare bedroom collapsed. A second contractor came the next day to re-assess the roof and fix the ceiling. I have not yet heard their thoughts (this was yesterday). Conversations were also started with insurance adjusters to see if it is worth putting in a claim, if the tenants belongings can be covered, and whether we were at fault.
When we had issues in our last weather event, our tenants were understanding that things happen in extreme weather, were accommodating that it would take some time to get someone in to fix the situation, and did not make any demands.
Not true this time. Our tenant feels that we have not adequately addressed a long standing roof issue. She demanded that it be fixed within 72 hours, interpreting Washington tenant-landlord laws incorrectly. She is throwing around words like “black mold”, “asbestos”, and “haz-mat suits”. She put up a huge fuss that our handyman leaves too big of a mess and would not let him come back, delaying work. She is demanding payment for her ruined items, even though we made it very clear that her renters insurance needed to cover all of her belongings regardless of the cause for loss.
This is not starting out as a good year for rentals. I don’t want pity; this comes with the territory and this too shall pass. I would however like ideas on how others might have responded to the leak, deal with drama tenants, and if it might be time to find a new handyman.