Author Topic: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations  (Read 8714 times)

ENL

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Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« on: August 07, 2015, 04:28:14 PM »
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« Last Edit: August 09, 2017, 07:35:53 PM by Evil Number Lady »

trailrated

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2015, 04:46:19 PM »
I could absolutely understand the tenant being annoyed at the situation. I would try to view the problem through their eyes as you try to come up with a solution that is fair for both of you. What is insurance covering? If the plumber is at fault, have you spoken to the company about possible compensation for a botched job?

That situation sucks, wish you the best.

Zamboni

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2015, 06:41:04 PM »
Wow, that's quite a mess. As you realize, it's also taking much longer than it should to complete this work, which has caused the unit to be far from what the tenant initially agreed to rent. It's also highly inconvenienced him or her, not to mention that his or her privacy is disturbed and he or she has to worry about securing valuables from a long parade of strangers entering the home (much more than would normally be expected.) What have you offered to compensate for this change in the conditions of the place being rented? Anything?

I think the tenant is right in wanting reparations at this point. If I was the tenant, I would take a lot of photos with time stamps.
Then, at a minimum, I would ask you for:
1) half price rent from the time this incident happened until all of the repairs are completed.
2) reimbursement for the difference in my water and electricity bills between the month this happened and the previous month (or the same month the year before, if electricity is highly variable due to weather changes.)

I know that's not what you want to hear, but I think the court would side with the tenant on this one. If he or she is smart enough to take photos with timestamps to show how long the condition is different than original, then you don't have much to stand on here unless you are being completely fair and reasonable. Being fair and reasonable means treating this person just as you would like to be treated if you were in the tenant's shoes here.

So, if you were this tenant, what would you expect after all of this? Be truthful in your answer.

Zamboni

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2015, 08:22:39 PM »
Yes, it sounds like your bar for property conditions as a tenant is pretty low.

I'm pretty sure that you would not be granted occupancy for Section 8 renters with exposed subfloors. In my state at least, landlords have an obligation to maintain all structural elements including flooring. The fact that you are made a good faith effort to start the repairs in a timely fashion works in your favor, but the length of time the repairs are taking does not. Flooring replacement should only take a couple of days once the subfloor is dry.

The tenant has to keep paying full rent unless you agree to a rent reduction, but he or she could do some things that would give you more headaches like calling Code Enforcement (who can fine you at their discretion) or obtaining a court order for reduced rent during the time it takes to make the repairs. What specifically is the tenant requesting?

Terrestrial

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2015, 09:29:18 PM »

-damage to tenant's property (not on me, since tenant should have made sure they were covered by renter's insurance, correct?)
-tenant's lost time at work dealing with the initial incident and subsequent times they left early/late to let in workmen (again, not my concern as long as I make myself available for this now that the tenant is at the end of their rope?)
-reduced usage of the house with a large portion of the subfloor exposed and fans running for a few days
-increased water/electricity bill from the incident


-Damage to their property: I agree they should have made adequate provisions to cover this with their own insurance.  If the loss ammt didn't exceed their deductible that's their problem, I don't think you owe them anything on this one.

-Lost time:  Eh...I have to side with the tenant on this one.  Whenever I have had work done at my rental, I have asked if the person would normally be home.  If so, and they have no issue letting the workers in, then no problem.  If they've said they would be at work or otherwise unavailable/uncomfortable, I have always made provisions for my wife or I to be there and let workers in ourself...i feel morally this is a landlord issue.  I don't know how much (if any) you might 'owe' them for doing this, but I don't think it's just 'all good since you can do it now that they are fed up'.  Perhaps this one can be handled with a decent bottle of wine or something to thank them for being accommodating with the promise that you will handle it going forward.

-Reduced usage:  I feel some compensation is due in rent reductions...exposed subfloor is not totally horrific, but they are paying $XXXX to lease your place in the condition presented, not with tore up floors and loud fans running part of the time and workers traipsing in and out for a month and a half.  When the AC went down in my rental and it took almost a week to order the required parts and get it fixed, I comped my tenants the whole week of rent for suffering through that sweltering time of year, which i'm sure was miserable.  This isn't the same persay but if I was the tenant I would expect some comps.  Its like someone renting a nice car for the week and then you telling them as they pull away...oh yeah, btw the windows don't roll down and the stereo doesn't work, good luck...the car still 'works', but it's not what they expected and paid for.

-Increased bills - Side with the tenant again on this one (but no idea what 'magnitude' we're talking).  Regardless of what the lease/law says, in no way morally should they be held responsible to pay for the electricity to run the fans and that the workers use for running tools for repairs, or however much the leak may have increased the water bill (I had an irrigation line blow last year and it jacked my bill for the month by almost 100 so it may not be 'chump change').  Whoever suggested crediting the difference between this period last year and this year to account for the extra and adjust for seasonality was spot on.

Good luck, I know how trying these things can be in rentals.  On one hand you want to be a good person and do right by your renters...on the other it's hard to keep taking monetary punches to the gut and writing big checks.  Just remember, this too shall pass.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2015, 09:35:00 PM by Terrestrial »

Argyle

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2015, 11:15:09 PM »
It's still fair to ask for compensation.  They're faced with a choice of two disagreeable alternatives: miss work or rearrange their day so they can be there, or let someone who is essentially a stranger (you) wait in their apartment while they're not there, along with the worry that you may not watch over their things as carefully as they might have done.  Having had household things stolen by workmen while I was merely in the next room, I can sympathize with this worry.  It is a disturbance for them either way.

Cathy

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2015, 11:29:14 PM »
All of the legal questions depend on the jurisdiction. You should not rely on your intuition about what is fair or just, as your intuition might be off.

...there was significant water damage to my rental house caused by a negligent plumber. ...

What are my responsibilities to my tenant for:

-damage to tenant's property (not on me, since tenant should have made sure they were covered by renter's insurance, correct?)...

The general rule is that there is no vicarious liability for acts performed by an independent contractor that you hired. The rationale for this general rule is that since the agent is an independent contractor, he has full discretion over how to perform the work, including whether to perform it negligently.

However, the general rule is subject to exceptions.

One exception may be that you did insufficient research in choosing the contractor such that you may be liable for hiring a contractor that was known to be negligent.

Another exception may be that you were under a nondelegable duty to maintain the property in habitable conditions and you could not absolve yourself of that responsibility by hiring a "contractor". It may be that despite your labelling of the agent as "contractor", you were still required to direct his actions because of your personal duty to maintain the habitability of the property. It may be that you were thus exposed to liability for his negligence.

I don't know what the law is in your jurisdiction (which is not disclosed) and the point I'm making here is that your intuition of what is fair is not a substitute for researching the law of your jurisdiction.

...According to the lease I'm not responsible for any of this. ...

In California, "any provision of a lease or rental agreement of a dwelling by which the lessee agrees to modify or waive ... [h]is right to assert a cause of action against the lessor which may arise in the future" is "void as contrary to public policy": Cal. Civ. Code 1953(a)(2). In other words, in California, a lessor of residential property cannot effectively draft a lease that absolves the lessor of liability for future happenings; a provision purporting to disclaim such liability is void.

patrickza

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2015, 05:42:28 AM »
While I can't advise on your specific situation, my only advise is for you to do whatever is necessary to ensure lawyers don't get involved.Once that happens it greatly reduces your chance of a reasonable outcome.

FIRE me

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2015, 11:55:36 PM »
I think you should give them, at the very least, one free month.

Argyle

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2015, 03:47:35 AM »
I agree.  At least one free month.

sokoloff

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2015, 04:11:49 AM »
I'd think that half-rent for the first two weeks of the issue would be reasonable.
Beyond that, I think you comp the rent until the job is done.
In all cases, you comp the excess utilities.

My reasoning is that it's reasonable for the tenant to share some of the "shit happens" exposure, but as it gets past 2, maybe 4, weeks, then it's on the landlord to get the place repaired in a timely fashion and you're falling short on that obligation. In some locales, you'd be on the hook to put the tenant up in a hotel. That would be wildly more expensive than just comping the rent.

Your tenant rented a functional and safe residence. There was damage due to no fault of their own. You have some reasonable timeframe to remedy, which expired long, long ago from what I'm reading. Agree with the other posters: don't let this get to court; you'll lose horrifically there.

KBecks2

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2015, 09:37:56 AM »
Two months free rent, a sincere apology and you bang the heads of the contractor to fix this shit ASAP.  Call them and nag them and get another contractor if these people screw up.  Why did you pay in advance??   That's stupid!!!

What was damaged of their property?  What is the value? 

You have a responsibility to provide useable living space.  The delay is costing you every day.

KBecks2

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2015, 09:39:26 AM »
Sometimes landlords will pay for hotels during repairs.  Hire better quality workers in the future.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2015, 10:39:14 AM »
Remember- you see this as being doubly screwed, one by the plumber and one by the responsibilities to the tenant. But the tenant could see this as you screwing up by choosing a bad plumber as well.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2015, 10:59:56 AM »
Having lived through a home reno - I would not want to live in an apartment that is going through that. It's noisy, people are in and out, etc.

Remember, those workmen are going to be plugging their machines into the plugs in that house, using the toilet, running water to wash stuff, they will also habitually leave the door open - all on your tenant's dime, apparently, since the tenant pays the utilities.

As a tenant, I would hope for a landlord who comped the rent and any increase in utilities. Alternatively, they should let me out of my lease so that I can immediately look for a new place to live. But if your tenant will settle for half rent, then go for it.

If you comp their rent/utilities, then no additional compensation for leaving work early. As a tenant, I would not expect compensation for my damaged stuff if I had renter's insurance and chose a high deductible - c'est la vie. If your tenant is really reasonable and accepts half rent or something, I think it'd be nice of you to compensate them in some way for the time they took to manage your property.

One way or another - if this is a good tenant and you want to keep them, send them a gift basket at the end of it.

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2015, 02:11:36 AM »
My thoughts..

Pay utility difference
Pay $100 to $200 for the inconvenience.
Add a restaurant gift card, or bottle of wine and sincere thank-you card.

Exposed subfloors are no big deal. Work not completed in two weeks is if contactors are there quite often. Water leaks happen and it was the Tennant's choice about their content insurance...  I had a leak in a rental I lived in, that slightly damaged the base of my wood furniture, and got nothing even though I asked....  I wasn't really expecting it, just trying it out to see if anything would happen.

Around here, most rent starts at $1000 for 1 bedroom, so I think half rent is too much.  But.. If this were a luxury rental with very high cost, the tenant expects far better service, and you need to compensate.

Lastly, be glad it isn't bed bugs.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 12:12:19 PM by goldielocks »

SnackDog

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2015, 04:27:23 AM »
Check the laws in your state immediately because your tenant may be also doing so. 

This is a case of bad luck, in my view, because stuff happens.  Our landlord has been jack hammering concrete in the apartment above ours, 8 hours a day for five months which caused a water leak in the ceiling and mold to form.  The leak was fixed but the mold was just painted over the smell persists.  We are SOL because he has a right to renovate.  We have the right not to renew the lease when it expires.

If you just want to be nice, offer the renter a small discount for the months there was inconvenience.  Tell him the whole mess is costing you a fortune and you are not sure how you can make ends meet.

Cathy

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2015, 09:48:59 AM »
... Our landlord has been jack hammering concrete in the apartment above ours, 8 hours a day for five months which caused a water leak in the ceiling and mold to form.  The leak was fixed but the mold was just painted over [and] the smell persists.  We are SOL because he has a right to renovate. ...

You might be "out of luck" in "Latin America" (your stated location), but in the United States and Canada, there would be potential remedies available. The details of tort law vary by jurisdiction, but generally speaking, this fact pattern might be potentially actionable as negligence, trespass, nuisance, or other causes of action. (The trespass allegation would be based on causing water to enter your apartment through the ceiling leak.) The impugned conduct might also be actionable breach of contract because the landlord's activities have prevented you from quietly enjoying the benefits under the lease. There may be other legal theories that could be used to impose liability on this landlord as well (in first-world countries).
« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 10:05:24 AM by Cathy »

Fuzz

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2015, 05:12:19 PM »
State laws can vary dramatically. If it's the only bathroom, I think you should comp the entire rent. If it's 2 bath, then somewhere between half and all the rent.

In every state, you have an obligation to provide something habitable. You fell short here. I would pay more than you think you *should* to keep the tenant happy. That's much cheaper than a lawsuit, which is where you're heading.

Megma

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2015, 09:17:51 AM »
I agree with the other posters that you owe them some rent accommodation (it seems you also feel this). I would say a free month would make most people happy, others also suggested this.

I will also say, that making them an offer now and them agreeing will help your situation if they later try to make things difficult for you with legal claims or complaints. I'm not saying to low-ball them...but more to do enough to make them happy. I also think a gift card to a local restaurant or two would go a long way as a thank you and cost you on the whole very little.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2015, 11:47:19 PM »
I agree with the other posters that you owe them some rent accommodation (it seems you also feel this). I would say a free month would make most people happy, others also suggested this.

I will also say, that making them an offer now and them agreeing will help your situation if they later try to make things difficult for you with legal claims or complaints. I'm not saying to low-ball them...but more to do enough to make them happy. I also think a gift card to a local restaurant or two would go a long way as a thank you and cost you on the whole very little.

I agree that one month rent and a $100 gift card to a fancy restaurant seems good to me. More than fair.

zephyr911

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2015, 07:27:20 AM »
To summarize the feedback and add my support: your obligations are minimal, but the benefits of a significant gesture of good faith are important.
Landlording sucks sometimes. If occasional "shit happens" events like this make a property unprofitable, it's not a good investment to begin with. And it's really hard to let go of hard-earned profits on a marginal investment. But most of the time, if you show a tenant that you're willing to make concessions, they will treat you better in the long run. And it's all about the long run with rentals. Think about what this property will earn in the next 5-10 years, not the months of profits this erases. And be prepared for the next nasty surprise (there will always be one).

Fishindude

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2015, 07:41:37 AM »
I would think free rent during the period they were inconvenienced, plus replace anything they had damaged is fair.
If they are good renters you want to keep, a nice card and a gift certificate for dinner out would be a nice gesture as well.

undercover

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2015, 09:27:31 AM »
Care to tell us the agreement you worked out? Might help someone in the future.

merula

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Re: Damage to the house and tenant wants reparations
« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2015, 09:48:47 AM »
Does your insurance include business income? That's a coverage that means that if there's damage to your business property and you're not able to earn money from that property, the insurance company will pay for the loss of income. Since it sounds pretty clear that you have some sort of legal obligation to your tenant, that would probably be enough to trigger the coverage. This could end up being a win-win-win. Your tenant gets paid, you don't have to pay out of pocket, and your insurance company now has a claim large enough to subro against the plumber.

Also, by the way, your insurance company is waiting to see what this ends up costing them before they decide whether to pursue subrogation. It's not about any facts of the case, all about the money.