In the United States, there is no legal law or rule that states when landlords are expected to foot the hotel expenses of tenants. They are not mandated to pay the hotel bills of a tenant who was put out of place when incidents got out of their control.
Note that the most fundamental method to go about this is to incorporate a clause in the landlord and tenant’s lease agreement. The clause will have to state in written form regarding what will happen when a rental unit becomes uninhabitable due to unforeseen circumstances.
If the rental unit is unfit for living for just a couple of days, the landlord will have to prorate the tenants’ rent for as many days as the space remains vacant. In the meantime, tenants will be responsible for making their own lodging arrangements.
However, if any issues come out where something was done or not done by the landlord, the tenant can file a petition for hotel recompense via the small claims court or directly.
Note that if the unit remains not eligible to live in for an unspecified period, most states would ask the landlord to free the tenants from the lease contract and proportionately assess the rent that has already been paid. And although landlords are not legally responsible for paying for tenant’s hotel room, they are expected to ensure they receive their deposited amounts.
In some instances, landlords tend to schedule things such as quick structural remodeling or fumigation that might call for the tenants to vacate the rental premises for some time. In situations like this, landlords will usually bear the tenant’s hotel room expenses for limited days. This is because they feel it is not worth losing such tenants.
Coupled with reimbursements and liability for destroyed or damaged properties, the easiest way to manage emergency relocation issues is that landlords should include a specific clause in the agreement that tenants should carry a renter’s insurance.
Additionally, the lease agreement should also incorporate a clause regarding what should be done when the rental unit becomes uninhabitable. It is more or less a good idea to place specific time limitations regarding remodeling, fumigation, and repairs.
The landlord should prorate the rent fairly because if a tenant’s unit becomes uninhabitable and he or she has paid rent for it in advance, they deserve to be compensated. However, that compensation does not apply to paying for a tenant’s hotel room, especially in the case when their renter’s insurance policy will do it.
4 Top Responsibilities Every Landlord Should Know
Just as a landlord has certain expectations from his or her tenants, from paying rent on time to honoring the lease agreement, a tenant has certain expectations from the landlord. Here are the primary landlord duties to tenants,;
Warranty of Habitability
Have it in mind that many landlord responsibilities fall under what is called a Warranty of Habitability. According to industry experts,
“The landlord of a rental unit is responsible for providing a ‘habitable’ unit for a tenant. The term ‘habitable’ simply means that the rental unit must be fit to live in, be free from hazards or defects, and be compliant with all state and local building and health codes.”
An uninhabitable unit involves disruptions to utilities such as water, plumbing, and electricity. Broken windows or doors that pose an injury or safety threat, unclean conditions that could cause an infestation of vermin. Here is a handy list of landlord responsibilities:
- Complying with all state and local health and building codes
- Maintaining structural components and a reasonably weather-protected unit
- Providing the necessary heat, electricity, and hot and cold water facilities
- Making any requested repairs promptly
- Ensuring that living conditions are peaceful and quiet, as well as hazard-free
- Maintaining a pest-free environment
Crime and Safety
As a landlord, you are tasked with ensuring the safety of your renters from crime. This could be as simple as providing sturdy locks on doors to installing lights in dark areas around the building. Note that these efforts not only improve safety but make people feel more secure in their homes.
It is also nice to consider not only protecting tenants, but also the neighborhood. Preventing crime should begin with the tenant screening process. A criminal report will help you to see if you’re renting to a person who has a criminal history and might put your property or the neighborhood at risk.
Note that individuals with a criminal history are not protected under the federal Fair Housing Act. HUD advises that landlords consider the severity of the crime and the time that has passed since the offense was committed.
Maintaining the Property
Have it in mind that not all property defects necessarily fall under a landlord’s responsibilities. For instance, you might not be explicitly required to replace worn carpet or deal with mildewed grout. However, if a property appears rundown, it will be treated with less respect from a tenant.
Note that addressing these sorts of cosmetic issues will go a long way to helping you find and retain good tenants. It is also necessary for landlords to keep accurate, up-to-date records of all maintenance and repairs to protect themselves if any conflicts do arise with tenants. A good landlord will react positively to tenant requests or explain why some requests can’t be accommodated.
It is normally in a landlord’s best interest to make repairs reported by a tenant as soon as possible, especially if the damage causes the rental to become uninhabitable or creates a safety hazard. Note that once a landlord neglects repair work, there can be consequences.
Although it all depends on local or state laws, a tenant could withhold some or all of a rent payment if a repair is not made in a timely manner. A renter may hire a third party to make the repair, again deducting the cost from the rent.
Nonetheless, ensure that you follow regulations regarding access to the property, as there are only a few reasons why a landlord may enter a rental while it is occupied. This will vary by state and municipality, but it is common to give a tenant 24 hours’ notice to make repairs or determine what repairs are necessary.
Some states allow you to enter the rental in case of an emergency. There are a number of home warranty services that will cover major repairs, such as furnaces and HVAC systems, if you don’t have a dedicated repair service.
Typically a landlord is not required to pay for the tenant’s hotel room when the damaged apartment is being repaired if the damages are caused by an “act of God”. If the landlord caused the damages to the rental then the landlord should pay for the hotel room pending the repairs.
Landlords are responsible for providing a habitable and safe living environment for their tenants. They should be prepared to address repairs—particularly those that affect habitability or safety—in a timely manner.