Tenant sick- Need advice on discussing tenancy

9 Replies

Hi friends!

I have a tenant in a condo that I purchased a while back who has been with me for about 4 years now. He unfortunately contracted a chronic illness on the job and it is taking its toll on him. 

My question to you all is what is a kind and respectful way of asking him what his plans are regarding his (and his family's) tenancy with me should be get ill enough to not climb up stairs anymore (unit is on the third floor, no elevator). He has mentioned before he ideally doesn't want to move but will do so if he can't handle the stairs anymore. 

To be completely honest I am also concerned that he may (god forbid) pass away while living in my unit. He has two sons on the lease but I'm not sure I trust them as much as I do him. He is PHENOMENAL. Rent always on time and treats the condo like he it's his own. If his health takes a turn for the worst there is some potential for this to change and not likely in any good way. 

Any thoughts on how to handle this situation would be appreciated. 

If you owned other units you could might move him into a bottom floor unit if it came available.

Eventually he might go into a home or the hospital. His kids may or may not have the values he has. Once gone they might go wild or stay in check.

There is a difference between an illness you recover fully from, and ongoing illness where you maintain it and it never goes away, and an illness that progresses and is eventually terminal. 

It's just one of those things you have to keep re-assessing.  

@Chirag Parikh  I would probably just think about it a while and choose some nice words to use "in conversation" I wouldn't go asking things so literally you know. It sounds like you manage your own units and have a decent relationship with the tenant already.

I would simply just stop by or call or just the next time you see him if you expect that to be soon, bring it up, ask "how are you feeling about xyz". By taking an interest in him in conversation it is easy to bring up potential situations and plans for the future.

You should also have a paper lease I assume, so when does it mature?? Maybe at that point you can change the tenant on the lease to being him only and that may solve most of your concern.

If you have other units you can possibly say you've had trouble in the past with multiple people on a lease and would prefer to have just one member listed. I do this especially with a roommate situation - get one person on the lease. What if one moves out and another moves in but you didn't approve them to live there? It can be an issue, so I now just make one person responsible for the unit and if things change then the others can reapply so to speak and the decision is up to me at that point not left to "nature taking its course" with my investment.

That's tough man, I actually have a tenant who is constantly going in and out of the hospital and depends on nursing aides and other people (they come over a lot).  In any case, I somewhat feel what your going through. 

Good suggestions here about possibly moving him into downstairs unit if it becomes available.  This is for sure something youre going to have to keep monitoring, but in the mean time I would not over step any boundaries.  Because even though you may have a good relationship (which I just try to stay a bit standoffish with my tenants - so they are clear we are not friends), I would not ask too much about his condition unless it involves your agreement between the two of you regarding the rental unit. 

Hi Chirag,

That's a tough situation to be in.  As the others mentioned, do you have a ground floor unit available, or will you?  If so, I might bring it up to him (gently) that this other unit might come available, would he want to consider moving downstairs if it does.  If you don't have something like that, maybe sympathize with him and let him know that you would support his decision if he felt he needed to move somewhere more accessible, and what that process might be like.  For instance, you would ask for 30 days' notice, given the circumstances you would not penalize him for breaking the lease, but you would like to show the unit to prospective tenants after he has given notice, etc.


I would attempt to have a meeting with the tenant & sons. At this meeting I would try to come from an angle of compassion/concern for the health/well being of the dad & his health issues & challenges of the climbing the stairs.

Would you be willing to release them from the lease if you don't have another unit where they can transfer too?

Hi All, 

Thank you so much for all the advice. I do not have a bottom floor unit available at this time otherwise I would definitely give it to him. He is planning on moving out if his health gets him to a point where he cannot climb the stairs so I think I'm okay on that end. 

I am meeting with him and his family tomorrow as apart of my semi-annual inspection process. I hope to tactfully and empathetically talk to him about his current condition. I have an excellent relationship with him, he is a great guy and I would truly hate to see him go. I too have been sure not to get too friendly but he always pays the rent on time and treats my unit like it's his own.

I will see what his plan is hopefully when I speak with him tomorrow. I am doing my best to be understanding. In the lease that I have with him now I have a clause that says he is allowed to end the lease for health reasons as long as he gives me as early notice as possible. 

Keep the advice coming! I'll touch base once I talk to him.



@Justin Escajeda  you're right about not being friends with tenants, but if it's already on a more friendly level there isn't a way to reverse that. But I agree with your post!

Go to NoNonsenseLandlord.com and read about Eric's tenant who had stage 4 cancer.

Your bank does not care that your tenant has this illness - they will still want their mortgage payment on time every month. If you don't treat this rental like the business that it is, you will have problems. 

It could be that his sons will step up and take care of everything, but why leave it to fate? I always say, if you want to know the answer to a question, you have to ask the question. Sometimes, being a landlord is tough, and this is one of those times. While you don't have to be rude, you do need to cover your own backside, and the way to do that is to make sure the rent is paid on time every month. Good luck!

Hey Guys!

Just a quick update. I met with the tenant and inspected the property. The property is in good shape and so is he! I think he often gets pessemistic about his condition but as of right now he is doing well. I spoke with him about his plans in the event he can no longer climb stairs or manage to even live there/pay rent for whatever reasons and he was very nice about it and explained that he plans on moving out should his health get bad enough and his kids will be moving with him. 

@Mindy Jensen  You're right about the bank not caring about my tenant and them wanting their money regardless. I'm fortunate in that I have already paid this property up so I have some safety in that sense. 

@Joel Owens  I agree with you here in that it is a situation that I have to keep reassessing, and will do so, though i do hope to keep him in there for as long as possible! 

Thank you everyone for all your input!

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.

By signing up, you indicate that you agree to the BiggerPockets Terms & Conditions.