Should I put Tenants in Hotel?

26 Replies

All,

Im having an electrical issue in a rental and the power could be down for days (The service drop from the point of attachment to the meter base is damaged in 2 locations from squirrels chewing neutral. Needs to be replaced. Possible heavy up. Permits. Inspection etc. which could take days).

If this takes some time, would the fair thing be to put my tenants up in a hotel (5ppl total) until the situation is resolved. Free of charge? Any input is appreciated.

Thanks,

Lisa

The alternative is to abate the rent for that number of days and let the tenant choose where they want to stay during the repairs.  Since it is summer they might choose to visit family or friends.

Another option is to rent a whole house generator and have it hooked up while power is out.  I think Sunbelt rentals offers this.  I'm not sure of the price though.  May be cheaper to pay for a hotel.  

Instead of rent abatement, you could offer them some cash, less than the cost of a hotel.  Since they are Section 8, they may be happy staying with friends or family for $50 per day.  

I put tenants in a hotel for 2 days because the septic system was overflowing and it was the weekend, so no plumbers would come out. They have been with me for 5 years and they love me.

@Lisa M. , you are a good landlord to consider putting your tenants in a hotel. I think that @Steve Maginnis has the best idea about using a portable generator. But instead of renting one, I would actually buy one. You can find a quality and powerful generator for about $700-$800 at the big box store and keep it for future emergencies at this or your other properties

@Lisa M. given the temperatures outside, assuming it is in DC, you are talking near 100F. That is uninhabitable conditions for the home to not have fans or AC. I would put them in a hotel given the nature of the repair, climate and short duration. Very minimal cost to you and avoids liability. Most importantly it is the right thing to do. I think he generator will cost more than a cheap hotel, but you can check on it.

I would  pro rate the rent but not sure how you do that with section 8.  What is a DC area hotel going to cost you? and you also can't cook in most hotels. 

Check if you can even go with a generator (ask your electric guy), it might not be an option. If it is and it isn't a great neighborhood you would need to secure the generator. Also compare the cost to a hotel, might make sense given what hotels cost in DC. 

I had a small fire due to an old exhaust fan in the bathroom. The ceiling had been ripped apart and it was pretty nasty in the bathroom after the fire department got done with it. I had new tenants, mom and dad plus a 3 year old girl. This happened on a Friday at 4pm and insurance couldn’t get people out to deal with it till Monday. I decided to put them into a hotel and I spent the weekend cleaning and prepping. Monday a cleaning crew came and two days after that I had the bathroom back in order. They decided to only stay at the hotel for two days and came back while I was finishing up.

A couple people told me that it was their responsibility to get renters insurance. I wasn’t sure if they had it or not and didn’t bother asking. When I got to the house that day on my way home from work the fire department was there and everyone was standing out on the street. I didn’t have the heart to let them just fend for themselves. Whether it was the best course of action or not from a business point of view, I felt that since I was supplying them with a home and in that home something they had no control over put them out on the street, I had to make sure they were taken care of. So that’s what I did.

With them being section 8 I would personally offer them a gift card from a local food store to replace what was in the frig as it will have gone bad after a few days.

These will not power the whole house. A coffee maker and toaster on will trip these.

Generators in general will need to be wired in correctly. You'll spend a few thousand just to have an electrician do that. If the power is turned back on with the generator on, someone will get hurt. The local utility's linemen should know better, but you never know.

Originally posted by @Victor N. :

@Lisa M. , you are a good landlord to consider putting your tenants in a hotel. I think that @Steve Maginnis has the best idea about using a portable generator. But instead of renting one, I would actually buy one. You can find a quality and powerful generator for about $700-$800 at the big box store and keep it for future emergencies at this or your other properties

 

Thank you everyone. My electrician was able to ensure the place was safe and the power is up with minimal disruption to the tenants. No alternative needed at this time. Although I still may offer a gift card as suggested @Lynnette E.

Originally posted by @Steve Maginnis :

Another option is to rent a whole house generator and have it hooked up while power is out.  I think Sunbelt rentals offers this.  I'm not sure of the price though.  May be cheaper to pay for a hotel.  

Instead of rent abatement, you could offer them some cash, less than the cost of a hotel.  Since they are Section 8, they may be happy staying with friends or family for $50 per day.  

I did this one time, but the city inspector came by and condemned our house, saying it was lot legal for anyone to live there.  He forced everyone to leave.  My family lived with a generator for 11 days after a hurricane, yet I was not allowed to let a tenant who preferred to stay be there with a generator.  I’m not saying don’t do it.  It’s a great suggestion.  I’m just pointing out the risk.  It’s not really much risk for you, since your repair job is requiring you to pull permits anyways.  The final permit inspection pass will lift the condemnation notice.  Tenants don’t understand the condemned can just mean a house doesn’t have running water though. And most leases, including mine, say the lease terminates if the property being rented gets condemned.  If SEC 8 finds out it is condemned they will issue the tenant a notice that says they have to move.  The don’t really, because once it is fixed the tenant can stay. If you have a contentious relationship with the tenant, you will lose them though if they have an option to leave.

I'm not sure what hotel prices are in your area, but depending on the time of year in my resort town, it is cheaper for us to book tenants in one of the weekly efficiency chains than to book nightly rentals. We always provide them with an efficiency so they have a fridge and a stove. That way you don't have to reimburse meal costs (at least in VA). We always give our tenants the option of going to a hotel or taking a daily cash payment and staying with family. We offer ours $100/day if they stay with a friend or family vs a hotel. About half choose the cash, and half choose a hotel.

In Virginia, the law is spelled our pretty clear in our landlord tenant law, what the landlord’s responsibility is if a property becomes uninhabitable for less than 30 days vs more than 30 days.  My guess is all states specify this.  I would check to see exactly what your state law says.  Ours says that if a house becomes uninhabitable, a tenant still has t pay rent, but the landlord has to provide alternative housing for up to 30 days.  If a repair is going to take more than 30 days, both landlord and tenant have the option to terminate the lease.

 

This isn't really a question you can get the answers to on a web forum... even this one. You need to read the landlord/tenant laws for your state AND for your city/town as they're often different from each other, but both sets of laws will apply. Taking advice from people that live in a different district is useless at best, dangerous at worst. 

@Lisa M. Take Derrick Wells advice to heart. 

The first thing you need to do is understand what legal responsibilities you might have and what kind of trouble you could expose yourself to, depending on your local code. 

This is absolutely critical as potential legal troubles you might not be aware of could cost you much more than the issue you are currently dealing with. 

I was going to ask and someone else had already if you require renter's insurance. That can cover living expenses in the event they can't live in the home. So now that your issue is resolved, it could be something to consider IF it's something your tenants can swing. It adds another layer of protection to you, too.

We suggest landlords put a requirement into leases that tenants carry renters insurance with a minimum of $500,000 in liability.  This protects tenants from damage to their  belongings from covered perils, provides money to them to stay elsewhere and gives another liability pocket if the tenant creates a situation where there is a resulting lawsuit.

EspositoInsurance.com

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