If you already have a good relationship with a plumber, you should be able to get a new hot water heater installed tomorrow. If it can't be done tomorrow, then watch out, because the Thanksgiving holiday will cause a significant delay. Do what you can to get this done ASAP!
If you can't get the hot water running soon, then offer your tenants the hotel option. If you're in luck, they may prefer to stay at their home and shower at the home of family/friends, at the gym, or forgo a shower for the time being. It also depends on how patient your tenants are.
When we had a sewer line collapse at our duplex, the repair couldn't be scheduled for 5 days! We offered the hotel option to our tenants. The other option was for them to stay at home and refrain from putting too much water down the drains (no washing clothes, no showers, no flushing toilets) and we would call for a "Honey Bucket" porta-potty to be delivered to their front yard. Both families (3 people + 2 people) chose to stay at home! Sorta like camping! We gave them gift cards to their favorite restaurant for the inconvenience.... also for a place to potty.
Offer to pro rate rent before you offer the hotel.
Check over what your lease says. I have sect 8 tenants and the agreement with the Housing Dept is that I need to keep "X, Y And Z" in fully working condition. When "x" went, and was going to be 5 days before it could be finished- I had to get then into a hotel.
@marcia Maynard I had exact sewer situation as you. I am not charging rent so that is worth $28 and plus I am kicking in $40 a day since you can't get a motel for $28. So does $68 a day seem fair?
depends on state law. read the fine print. in michigan one of my two bathrooms in the unit broke / flooded with sewage. they said I owed them a hotel. I nicely pointed out that state law only required that at least 1 bathroom continued to function and I made reasonable efforts to repair the other, which I did.
In my situation the main sewer line has a hole so the bathroom can't be used. I am just trying to get opinions on if what I am doing is reasonable.
Also ask them what their renters insurance covers. That should be the first call for them to see what is covered.
What would happen if this were your personal residence? Would the mortgage company put you up in a hotel for a couple nights? No. You would suck it up and use a friend's house, the gym, etc. Your tenants can do the same.
However, being a nice Landlord is a good thing. I usually talk to the tenant to apologize and see what kind of inconvenience this will be for them. Most will understand it's not your fault and will deal with it. If they don't have alternate options, buy them a one-week pass to a local gym where they can take the kids to swim, work out, and hit the showers.
Thank you everyone for the replies. We were able to resolve the hot water heater issue in less than 36 hours and I offered to pro-rate the rent for one and a half days. They actually declined, were so appreciative that we took care of everything so fast— said they would be happy to pay full rent on the 1st. I’m just glad the carbon monoxide detectors were working, it could have been very bad. Everyone make sure you have them installed and functional.
In Texas providing hot water of at least 120 degrees is required by the property code, and any failure of the system would be considered a health and welfare issue and an emergency. Ironically, AC is not.
Even so, the landlord has a reasonable amount of time to repair the problem, and a day or two seems pretty reasonable.
#1 You want to refer to the lease so you can speak intelligently to the tenants about it.
#2 You can tell them to check with their renter's insurance to see if hotel is covered.
#3 You can check with your insurance to see what is covered.
I would almost never offer hotel room. It happens to the houses we own, we rent, in hotels, etc. It's no fun and makes you angry, but it is part of life.
One risk you run by putting them in a hotel is that they do not want to leave when they're having fun and you get stuck with the bill.
If it drags on and on, lease discount might be in order. A couple of days I would think no discount is in order and no hotel.
Where's the property? Do you have a good quick plumber?
Hope this went well. And, no, you didn't have to put them up in a hotel. However, be aware, if this type of thing goes too long they can complain to the city and they might condemn the house for occupancy--then the tenant has to move. But, I'm assuming your plumber got on this quicker than that. (If a house has already been condemn, that might be cause to put a tenant up in a hotel until the repairs are made. Also, if work is being done on a home whereby lead-based paint hazards might be created (like during window replacement, etc.) and there are children living there, it would also be a good idea to have them stay somewhere else until the work is done to avoid potential lead poisoning issues. (Check RRP regulations for lead safe work practices.)
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