My landlord recently sent me a letter saying that I need to vacate my apartment for three days because they’re going to replace the floors. Is my landlord responsible for relocating me and how do I negotiate compensation?
Your lease likely states that your landlord can access your apartment for improvements and repairs—which in some scenarios is easier done without you being in the apartment at the same time. So, negotiating compensation with your landlord and having it as a written agreement is the best way to protect yourself during this time.
The agreement should outline how long the work will last, the scope of the work, where they will set you up to live during the process, along with provisions to protect you and your belongings.
Your landlord is absolutely responsible for relocating you during this time, says Catharine Grad, a real estate and tenant attorney with the firm Grad and Weinraub. That can be another, vacant apartment in your building or they can pay for a hotel.
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Grad says that if you’re put in a vacant apartment, your landlord should be responsible for connecting the Internet, phone, and any other services that you need. If you’re put up in a hotel, a landlord typically will also give you a food stipend while you’re displaced from your apartment.
Steven Kirkpatrick, a partner at the law firm Romer Debbas, says that these situations depend on how extensive the work will be. But, whether it’s just a couple of days or a month or longer, your landlord is also responsible for moving furniture and preparing your apartment for the work.
All of this should be outlined in the written agreement. In addition, there should be a clause with a penalty for your landlord if the work ends up taking longer than projected. It’s common to include a clause that says the landlord will pay you for every extra day up to a certain amount of time, and then can increase if it takes even longer.
“You have to think about all of the things that can go wrong and address them practically,” Grad says. Your landlord should be held liable if your belongings are damaged or go missing during the process, especially since multiple people will be in and out of your apartment and you won’t be there to observe.
Replacing floors, or any major repair work that requires you to vacate an apartment, is usually a messy process so you want to make sure that the apartment is tented to protect your belongings from dust or debris.
You should also consider how major repairs or improvements will impact your apartment, like if they use materials that you don’t like or even move a wall, Grad says.
When it comes to paying rent during this time period, it really depends, Kirkpatrick says. If it’s just a couple of days, then you will likely be responsible for paying rent. But, if it’s a months-long process, you are in a better position to negotiate a break on the rent in addition to your landlord paying for accommodations elsewhere.
Landlords are usually as “accommodating as possible in these situations,” Kirkpatrick says.
So, yes, your landlord is responsible for finding you a temporary place to live, you’re entitled to some compensation for your displacement, and most importantly, you should have everything covered in a written agreement.
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