July 31, 2018
Renovation: Rights for a Tenant
Experts argue that all properties should undergo major renovation every 15-20 years in order to keep them in the best condition. You should, of course, perform any other maintenance as need and when required. However, what do you do if there’s a tenant occupying the property when major renovation work is being done? This can have implications for their rights and your responsibility as a landlord. While exact renovation regulations will vary state by state, there are a few general rules of thumb to which you should adhere. If the tenant’s only option is to remain on the property during renovation work, you’ll need to work with them to come to a fair arrangement for all parties. Building structures and household items decay over time. Do your research now so you’ll be prepared when major renovation work needs to be completed.
Can A Tenant Stop Paying Their Rent?
The simple answer is no. Once a tenant has signed a contract, they must continue to pay the rent in accordance with the terms to which they agreed. However, you should be considerate to their needs and whether this work is affecting their living conditions. A tenant is well within their rights to ask for a rent reduction in certain circumstances.
Does the renovation block off any part of the house? For example, if a downstairs toilet is inaccessible, it is reasonable that a tenant should receive reduced rent, since they have reduced access to the property. You have no legal obligation to offer this reduction, but perhaps a moral responsibility. This is especially true in a society where rents are already too high for many. If the work is clearly disruptive, then you should talk to the tenant about giving a discount to reflect this.
Can A Tenant Claim Compensation?
Although landlords are not obligated to offer a rent reduction, tenants may take legal action over construction work. You may be required to offer compensation if it can be proved that the work left a tenant financially worse off. For instance, if you have damaged their property as a result of the reconstruction work. Do your best to work around the tenant and keep them updated on progress. Try not to cause damage during remodeling, but be prepared to pay for it if you do.
While the renovation is happening, it’s likely that you’ll be using the gas or electric in the property. Make sure the tenant isn’t unfairly billed for energy usage by negotiating a price with the tenant. There are no strict legal guides here, but bill your tenant honestly for what they are using.
Renovating your home is essential to keep it of a high standard, with a modern and appealing aesthetic. However, it will inevitably cause disruption. Be sure of your legal responsibility and work with the tenant to come to a fair agreement. They may ask for compensation through the courts, so avoid this by being fair from the start.