Rules on displacing Tenants during unit repairs

9 Replies

I have a situation where an underground hot water line broke and I need to replace or run new lines. Until complete there is no hot water in the unit. We decided to run new lines. The issue is that the unit is occupied.  We lined up a temporary unit to move them to but it is 15 minutes from the current unit (friends open unit).  The occupant declined and said they would stay out of the way.  This is my first time dealing with this situation.  Is there any issues with not moving the tenants?  legal or other?  Anyone else have to deal with this?  I have read about rehabs but not repairs.  Are there any significant differences beyond must do vs wanting to do?  thanks, 

@Ames Foley I would say that if there is not hot water, then you haven't delivered a rentable unit to theme. I would not charge them rent for the days the place is under construction.

That should simplify things. Be sure to cut them a check; don't let them deduct from the regular rent payment.

Since you offered them another place at no additional cost, I would not reimburse them the days they have no hot water. I would also get something in writing from them that you offered them the other place and they declined, in case they take you to court.

I agree with Michelle that you should get something in writing and signed/dated by the tenant(s) and you saying that they declined the opportunity to stay at a place with hot water while repairs were being done. It should probably include some sort of wording about you not being liable.

This is a tricky situation. I mean, you did offer them a place, but is there anything in your lease about this provision? Ideologically I agree with Account Closed I'm just not sure what's lawfully concrete. 

Ultimately I think you just need to get the tenant in a happy place, get good tracked communication (email) and maybe something in writing stating what both parties have agreed to. You should either provide them with a place, or a discount on the rent prorated per day they can't use the property. NOT BOTH (obviously) 

I also agree that, if you've offered a place to stay with hot water that they turned down, you are not obligated to reduce their rent.

As an aside, I was living in a rental during Hurricane Katrina.  There wasn't hot water for almost six months because the gas lines were flooded and the hot water heater was gas powered.  Though I was only living there for three months of it.  I guess I could have made a big commotion with my landlady about changing it to an electric hot water heater, but I didn't.  I didn't ask or expect the rent to be reduced either.

Quite frankly, it was unpleasant, but not that big of a deal.  I can understand why the tenants don't want to bother going elsewhere for a short time.  I used the coffeemaker to get hot water for washing dishes.  As they say, necessity is the mother of invention!

How long and how disruptive will it be to them?   I would just document that it was offered. Personally  I would probably do what they are doing if it wasn't too long.   All your stuff is there.

I have lived without water at all when the well went and then without hot, it was more difficult to me to leave.   Give some concession  I once did a ymca membership for water issues in the house but it was a different situation, I was living there and knew they would like the membership anyway. find what is right for your tenant

Thanks everyone, this is great information.  The repairs should only be a few days long. And they were without hot water for several days before contacting my PM.  I will have him write up a quick document for us to both sign that the other location was offered and declined.

@Jason Miller l like to cut a separate check because:

1 - I don't want to alter my lease agreement. I don't want tenants to think it's flexible.

2 - A cashed check is solid proof that tenant received compensation. The memo field can save you an hours of writing contractual language to describe the situation.

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here