Do I have to put up a month-to-month tenant while I do repairs?

7 Replies

Hi - i have a rental in Philly and the ceiling in the bathroom caved in after a particularly bad flood. The bathroom needs to be redone, which will take some time. In the meantime, I've asked my month-to-month lease tenant to vacate and basically find a new place to live because the bathroom cannot be used (it's the only bathroom in the house) and it will be awhile before it gets redone. He told me he has no place to go. How do I address this? Am I legally required to put him up somewhere (on my dime) while I fix the house? He's on a month-to-month so I would prefer to give him notice so he is free to find a new place and I can take my time to do the renos properly.


Are you filling an insurance claim?

Insurance may help, but this is not your issue to house them while this is happening.   It seems pretty sad that

the tenant has to deal with this. It sucks bad. !

I would tell him you don't have the means to put him in a hotel right now.

I would be very kind to refund remaining rent after he leaves and maybe full deposit.

I would really encourage them to vacant and you will bend over backwards to help.

After they leave you could give them another $500 if you would like.

Is your state still giving tenants COVID relief?

Maybe legally you can't get him out because of COVID until the end of next month!

Just some thoughts

Do they have renters insurance?  This should help with some short term costs and replacement of any ruined belongings.  But ultimately the right thing to do is to cover replacement housing until the end of the legal term since you were not able to give proper notice. I assume you have not yet given notice to end the contract, so you may be on the hook until the end of July, depending on your local tenant-landlord laws.  The unit is not habitable, you need to provide an alternative.  Maybe you could pre-pay a storage unit and put them up in short term housing.  Try to find a solution for the tenant that is not too costly for you.  I would probably find out what the obstacles are to finding another place (moving/packing, deposit money, finding places, all of the above) and try to do what you can to make things easier.  Given the timeframe, though, does it make more sense to keep the tenant, especially if you could naturally get the repairs done to your standards before the end of July?  Some of this is sunk costs, so sort out your options and choose what seems best.

Thanks everyone! I'll try to respond to both of you in this comment

@David Avery - We're not filing an insurance claim because it looks like the damage was caused by something that was not fixed properly by our previously contractor, so essentially owner's negligence. We feel terrible about putting him out and offered just what you suggested - refund the rest of the month, gave him back his deposit plus a little extra.

I don't know if COVID relief or eviction moratorium apply here. The problem isn't non-payment of rent, it's that the home shouldn't be occupied because there is no bathroom access until further notice.

@Michele Fischer - unfortunately, he does not have renter's insurance, which was the first question that I asked him. His main obstacle is financial from what I gather. He doesn't have significant savings and would probably be hard-pressed to come up with a deposit. We inherited him as a tenant when we bought the unit (about four months before the pandemic) and had intended to put someone in the other room. However, once COVID hit, we were leery about bringing in another person. So he has had the whole house to himself and I think he is very reluctant to move somewhere he might have to share amenities, after living alone for very low rent for the past 20 months.

If we do decide to put him up for the two remaining weeks, do we still charge him rent for the month? Not that I'm planning to, I'm just wondering what the convention is. Thanks!

My lease specifically states that the tenant is responsible to maintain renters insurance and I review with them that I don't have any insurance to cover their belongings or provide a place to stay if the house is uninhabitable even if it's my fault since that is what renters insurance is for.  I also have in my lease that if the house is uninhabitable that either party can cancel the lease.  For your situation it is hard but you have to look at this both ways, this is a business and needs to be treated as such.  The tenant has been good through covid so I'm assuming you are looking to keep them but are they aware you need to rent the additional room soon, they may be looking to leave once they have to start sharing.  While I wouldn't foot the bill for a hotel if you do then the end result is making the tenant whole and they can have a choice if you decide to do so.  If they want you to foot the bill they need to keep paying rent, if they choose not to pay rent thats fine as well but they can't expect to double dip and you pay for their hotel as well.  I would also look at why it is taking so long to get back into shape.  If it is because you are trying to DIY you need to weigh the costs of a vacant unit, tenant concessions if you make any, and the fact you can't rent that other room and see what makes the most sense.  If it's because your person is booked and you can't schedule sooner makes sense, everyone good and reasonable is booked out.  

This is great! @Adam Martin you've pretty much nailed my position. We're not looking to keep this tenant - we would prefer to fix the bathroom (which we knew that we would have to do at some point), and rent the whole house to one tenant. That was always the plan, but we were trying to generate a little revenue to pay towards the reno costs but COVID got in the way :(

No DIY on this on. We definitely want to bring in professionals, and you are right about the availability of good contractor services. It's worth it to us to carry an empty unit for a couple of months until we can get the work done, and then rent the whole thing out rather than try to get keep this tenant and look for a second occupant.

@Theresa Harris - yes, agreed. 

Having a vacant property to work on is the goal.  Then you can fix it up as time and money allow.

You can get the rent you want and go at your pace!

Lower deposit gets you higher rent!

Trick I learned on low end markets!