Don’t let a Landlord-Tenant Dispute Become a Natural Disaster

Don’t wait until disaster strikes to protect yourself and others from damages. Have a plan in place to prevent landlord-tenant disputes when there is property damage of any kind.  You should take steps to ensure that the lease clearly designates who is responsible for what damages and when.  Both parties should also have insurance when replacements or repairs have to be made.

Mind the Lease

Lease Termination

Landlords should take special care in the rental agreement about terms and conditions for terminating or breaking the lease. This should include stipulations that specify how much advanced notice a tenant must give in order to break the lease and what fees will be incurred if the contract is violated.  Both parties are required by law to provide a 30 day notice that they will be terminating the lease, but you can choose to request a larger time frame in the lease.  Keep in mind that if special circumstances develop on the property, such as a tornado ripping off the roof of the property, the tenant can’t be expected to continue to live in the property.  In such situations that the property is deemed to be untenable, the Landlord must either provide alternative housing for the tenant during the period of repairs or terminate the lease.

Damage Repair

Replacement and repair for damages are generally isolated for the landlord and the tenant.  The tenant is to be responsible for their own personal belongings inside of their unit.  The landlord is responsible for the upkeep of the physical property inside and out.

What if the property collapses from a storm and damages personal belongings?  Since the storm was the cause of the collapse, the property owner is responsible for the property and the renter is responsible for their own belongings.

What if the property collapses on a tenant’s belongings due to improper upkeep? This is one of the rare cases where the landlord’s negligence caused damage to the tenant’s belongings.  In this case, the landlord can be held liable for the damages.    

What about when the tenant damages your property? If there is a rain storm and the tenant has left the windows open and caused water damage, you don’t want to be held liable.  The lease should clearly designate that damage caused to the property due to the tenant’s negligence must be paid for by the tenant.  This often can be taken out of the tenant’s safety deposit.

Have a List of Vendors for Emergencies

Having your vendors already lined up and their contact information readily available will save you the time and hassle of having to source them during a stressful situation such as a natural disaster. With the right groundwork in place, you should be able to work together to figure out how to rectify any damage done.


Landlords Should Get Property Insurance

If anything goes wrong on your property and you end up with the bill either because you were unable to collect or because it was ruled that you are responsible for the costs, property insurance is the only thing that may be able to keep your head above water.  You should always have a property insurance policy so that your investment doesn’t become a cost.

Residents Should Get Renters Insurance

It’s important to encourage your residents to get renters insurance.  Many tenants mistakenly assume that their personal items are covered under the property insurance policy presumably held (and paid for) by the landlord.  But a landlord’s property insurance only covers the building itself.  It does not include any items contained in each unit.  If you want to make sure your residents are financially secure and able to pay rent each month, you can make a provision in the rental agreement that requires renters insurance.

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