While Repairs Take Place, What Happens to Tenants?


RE Q&A: Tenants don’t have to pay rent for the time their place is inhabitable. But landlords aren’t required to find them a temporary place or pay for it either.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: Our rental townhouse had an issue with the roof that leaked water into one of the bedrooms our renters use as a home office. While the association is working on the roof, our insurance is fixing the room affected. The couple we rent to is annoyed and wants us to rent them another apartment or hotel during the repairs. We are reluctant to do that since the rest of the house, including their bedroom, is fine. Do we need to put them up in a hotel? – Kathryn

Answer: No, you do not need to get them a hotel.

When a rental becomes uninhabitable for a short time, such as in your situation, the tenants do not have to pay rent for the time the rental is inhabitable.

While many tenants believe their landlord is responsible for finding them a place to live during the repairs, this is not how it works. The landlord does not need to cover a hotel or pay moving expenses.

This is one of the many reasons I advise tenants to purchase renter’s insurance.

Situations like yours, where only a portion of the property has become uninhabitable, work similarly. The difference is that the rent is only abated for the part of the property that has become uninhabitable. For example, if one-fifth of the townhouse is now under construction, the rent should be reduced by 20%.

Of course, the law only covers what a landlord must do, not what they should do. There can be many reasons for doing more than the legal minimum. Finding good tenants is not always easy, so keeping them happy is a good idea. It is also important to look to the “golden rule” and treat your tenant how you would want to be treated.

Given the specifics you are dealing with, you will have to evaluate this for yourself to determine if the minimum relief is appropriate or if you should do more to keep your tenants happy.

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