Can a landlord make a tenant move temporarily while the failing septic system in the rental is repaired? That is the question this week for veteran landlord and property manager Hank Rossi who answers questions from other landlords and property managers around the country about their rentals.
Dear Landlord Hank:
A house that we manage has a failing septic system. The repair process is likely to take about two months. The landlord would prefer that tenant temporarily moves out during repair (for various valid reasons) and is even willing to assist with the cost. Tenant insists on staying and has agreed to “drastically reduce” their water usage during this time. Can the landlord “force” the tenant to temporarily move out (and abate rent during this time, of course), or does the tenant have the right to insist on staying, even if that makes the septic repair more complicated?
Look to your lease, Cory.
All leases that I’ve ever seen have a section called Fire and Casualty. Most read something like this: If residence becomes uninhabitable by reason of fire, explosion, or by any casualty, management may, at its option, terminate rental agreement or repair damages within 30 days.
If management does not do repairs within this time or if building is fully destroyed, the rental agreement is hereby terminated.
You are in control. Having no water in a building would be considered to be a casualty making the building uninhabitable, in my opinion.
It would certainly be for the best for this tenant to relocate during this repair. Even with drastic reduction in water usage, there has to be somewhere for this water to go, which would be the non-existent septic system.
I would tell the tenant they must move out, and that would be an absolute requirement, if they want to return. Good luck.
About the author:
“I started in real estate as a child watching my father take care of our family rentals- maintenance, tenant relations, etc , in small town Ohio. As I grew, I was occasionally Dad’s assistant. In the mid-90s I decided to get into the rental business on my own, as a sideline. In 2001, I retired from my profession and only managed my own investments, for the next 10 years. Six years ago, my sister, working as a rental agent/property manager in Sarasota, Florida convinced me to try the Florida lifestyle. I gave it a try and never looked back. A few years ago we started our own real estate brokerage. We focus on property management and leasing. I continue to manage my real estate portfolio here in Florida and Atlanta. ” Visit Hank’s website here.