Natural disasters can happen at any time or place. Whether a tornado, flood, earthquake, or fire, natural disasters cause extensive property damage and displace thousands of people every year. When a natural disaster hits and damages a rental property, owners have certain responsibilities to their tenants that go beyond focusing on the destruction to the rental home. The nature of these responsibilities depends on whether your Seattle property is still habitable or not.
As a landlord, you should know that rental homes must be fit for human habitation. It doesn’t matter what the location of the property is, all rentals must provide a tenant with water, heat, electricity, and a sanitary and structurally safe building. While the exact regulations can differ in each area, most regulations state that if the rental home does not meet the basic requirements a tenant is under no obligation to pay rent and may even cancel the lease. They can also be authorized to get their security deposit shortly in full.
When a rental home has been hit by a natural disaster in Seattle, the amount of damage should be assessed quickly. The damages should always be documented thoroughly in case questions arise later on. If the damage is minimal and the tenant will be displaced for only a few days or weeks, your responsibilities as a landlord are to handle all the repairs as quickly as possible. Your tenant may still be required to honor the terms of the lease, as well as pay to repair or replace any damage to their own personal property.
In the event that the damage is extensive, or the repairs will have several months or more, it is the responsibility of the owner to determine how to handle the lease. If the home is uninhabitable, you may need to release your renter from the lease and return the security deposit in full. A tenants’ security deposit cannot be used to pay for damages caused by a natural disaster. In addition, if the natural disaster strikes close to the beginning of the month or immediately after a month’s rent has been paid, the landlord may have a responsibility to return that month’s rent to the renter.
Recognizing how to behave after a natural disaster and which procedures to take in relation to the lease, rental payments, and security deposits is something the authorities at Real Property Management Eclipse have years of exposure with. With our organization on your side, you can stay calm and confident in the knowledge that even when disaster hits, your Seattle rental properties are in the outstanding available hands. Please contact us online or call us at 425-209-0252 for more information.