As a landlord, how do I notify and treat tenants whose rental property has a burst water pipe.

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As a landlord, how do I notify and treat tenants whose rental property has a burst water pipe.

Tenants went away for holidays and a pipe burst in the attic flooding the home. It is unlivable and they will need to find alternative arrangements. What is the process I need to go through to inform them? I told them what happened but they reacted as if it was only a small issue. They will not scheduled to return to property until January 15th. We have contacted our insurance company and mitigation is underway.

Asked on January 4, 2018 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Send them written notice, sent some way or ways that you can prove delivery (e.g. fax; email attachment; and/or certified mail or fed ex with tracking) stating that the premises are unlivable due to damage and that no one may reside in them until remediation has been completed. Give them the option of either terminating their lease or continuing the lease but not moving back in until the premises are habitable again, in which case they will not have to pay rent for the time the place is unliveable. (You can't make tenants pay for periods when they can't use or live in the premises.) The notice should let them know in no uncertain terms that they have to make other living arrangements and will not be allowed back in the premises until the work is fundamantally done (i.e. it's ok if some fit and finish is still going on) and the premises is fit for inhabitation; but that you will coordinate with them to let them retrieve their belongings.


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