Woman looking up at a ceiling that's cracked.

How to Replace a Roof When You Have Tenants

As a landlord, you want to maintain your rental property and keep generating rental income.  Tenants want quiet enjoyment of the property.  How do you juggle serious repairs while minimizing disruption to tenants?  What should you do if you have to do something serious, such as replace the roof?

Fortunately, we have some insight on how to navigate a residential roof replacement while you have tenants.  First, it is important to ask yourself a few questions. 

Is The Residential Roof Repair Or Replacement an Emergency? 

The first thing you should ask yourself is whether the roof replacement or repair is a time-sensitive issue.  Remember, you have the legal obligation to keep your tenants safe, and an unstable roof poses a problem. 

If the roof’s condition means that the property is no longer safe to live in, it’s your responsibility as the landlord to replace it.  If you don’t replace it, your tenant may start withholding rent (and paying it into an escrow account) or file a complaint with housing authorities, which could result in an official investigation.

A leaking roof constitutes an emergency situation.  Water inside the home can destroy electronics, personal items, clothing, and more.  A leaking roof may eventually lead to mold and mildew, which can be a health concern.  Water presence over time can damage studs and the foundation as well, posing other kinds of hazards.  This can cause extensive damage, affecting your property value as well as tenant safety. 

If a roof is structurally damaged, it needs to be replaced or repaired immediately.  It could present a danger to the occupants.

Fortunately, if a roof is simply old and reaching the end of its life, that doesn’t mean you need to replace it immediately.  You may be able to wait until the current lease is up and then complete the needed work before signing another lease. An old roof by itself is not an issue of habitability unless the roof is damaged to the point where it could become a danger.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Whether you have determined an emergency need or are waiting for a lease to end, your second step will be to contact your insurance provider. 

As a landlord, you should have a “Landlord’s Policy.”  This is a type of insurance policy that is specifically targeted towards landlords.  If your roof recently experienced weather-related damage, it’s likely that your insurance company will cover that damage.  Part of that damage may include tenants being unable to stay in the home while the roof is being replaced or repaired.

Depending on the type of coverage you have, it may come in two forms: 

  • The insurance company may pay current tenants to procure temporary housing during this process.
  • Are you between tenants? The insurance company may reimburse you for the lost rent that you’ll experience by not being able to rent out the property during the upcoming work.  

Your insurance company should also contribute toward the labor and materials for the roof work and any other necessary repairs.

Renters should be encouraged to contact their renters insurance in the event that any of their own property was damaged.  Their own renters insurance policy is likely to cover this.

Can Tenants Live In A House While The Roof Is Replaced? 

The short answer is “maybe”. Homes that are having the roof replaced may not be habitable.  Generally, the condition of the roof and the extent of work needed will determine whether tenants can remain in the property while work is performed.  If the roof does need to be replaced or repaired right away, your tenants will need to be notified and accommodations may have to be made for them.  If it’s something your insurance company covers, the insurance company will likely handle this.

However, if it’s something that you will be taking care, you may need to pay for tenant accommodations for the duration of the project.  A short-term project in good weather will generally mean no need to make any change to accommodations.  Speaking with the contractor who will be doing the work to gain insight into project extent and duration will be especially helpful in determining whether any change will need to be made to accommodate tenants.  Communicate with your tenants about what to do. If necessary for tenants to vacate the property temporarily, tenants may have friends or family nearby that will house them for free or low-cost.  In these situations, simply waive their rent for the duration of the repairs.

If they do not have a place to go, you’ll need to rent a hotel room or AirBnB while the repairs take place.  Many times, an insurance policy can help pay for your tenants’ temporary accommodations as part of your landlord coverage.

Tenants can resume their lease once the work is complete.  If the repairs will take a significant amount of time, consider paying your tenants to end their lease early.

Roof Replacement Notice To Tenants

Residential roof replacement or repair sounds intimidating to many people.  Installing a new roof is a significant project. Tenants may need to move out during this process.  Providing tenants clear communication will be a significant factor in ensuring a smooth project process.

Part of the communication aspect is providing tenants with an honest timeline.  It is important to talk to your contractor and discuss their process and timeline in detail.  Without clear communication about your specific situation, it is difficult to know how long the residential roof replacement will take or how involved it will be.  This can also help you plan ahead and minimize the impact on your tenants.  Provide your tenants sufficient details so they can make plans for any needed temporary changes. 

The Roof Replacement Process

Ultimately, the specific process varies depending upon your contractor, type and style of roof, the extent of the work and the time of year.  Each of these factors can affect the time it will take to repair or replace a roof. They can also affect how disruptive the process will be. 

Communication with tenants and with your contractor is important.  Having everyone on the same page can ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. 

SUNVEK Can Handle Your Roof Repair and Replacement Needs

It is essential to plan things in advance so that you can complete the project with minimal disruption.  At SUNVEK, we are here to help you navigate the process and cost-effectively maintain your property.  

Get your free estimate today

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