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Renovating Tenant-Occupied Properties Quickly and Courteously

May 22, 2020

Over time apartment complexes are going to need renovations to keep up with the evolving themes and technologies in our modern world. What happens if you can’t wait until your units are vacant to renovate? Even though you own the property, the tenant occupying your space also has rights. As the manager, making an effort to not disrupt a safe, private and quiet living situation should be a top priority. If the tenant is experiencing inconvenience, displaced or, worse, becomes the victim of a crime, it could mean you will face legal trouble for breaching the lease. Before you make a decision to proceed with renovations, is it worth the potential trouble?

Renovation vs. Repair

Does your property need maintenance or repairs because of a safety hazard? If there is an issue that affects the safety of your tenant, it needs to be repaired as quickly as possible. If your tenant’s roof is leaking or there is an electrical issue with the wiring throughout the apartment, this needs to be attended to immediately. The tenants will understand and be grateful that you are taking their safety seriously despite the temporary inconvenience. What if you are wanting to make a change to the kitchen, you must first weigh the different factors that come with that choice. How long will the renovation take? How much will this renovation affect your tenant’s daily life? What is the return on your investment versus ending the tenant’s lease early? Think about whether the potential profit is worth the risk of potential liability. 

Communicate With Your Community

After you’ve considered all your options and decided to move forward with renovating your unit while it is still occupied with a tenant, here are a few practices to help you stay in compliance legally and continue to have a good relationship with your tenant:

  • Provide sufficient notice: It is required that you provide at least a 60 days’ notice of any renovations planned that will hinder the tenant’s daily life in the unit. If you know about the plans further out than the required 60 days, let the tenant know even if that tenant is still prospective. The notice should include the type of work being done and the timeline of the project.
  • Speak with the tenant: Once the tenant is notified, walk through the plan and answer any of the questions the tenant has. It is likely that the tenant using the space will be excited about the upgraded renovations. It may be possible that the tenant has plans to go on vacation for a period of time. If this is the case, try to plan the schedule of renovations around that time frame if it is possible. Your tenant may have helpful input that could ease the renovation project along.
  • Offer alternative living accommodations: If the unit is unable to be reasonably used during the renovations, offer to pay for relocation and housing costs during the project’s timeline. Consider if part of the unit is unavailable, like the kitchen or laundry utilities, and if you could find a reasonable solution in the meantime.
  • Vet the contractors: Contractors and other professionals will be in and out of the unit with the tenant and that tenant’s personal property. Make sure you research who you are choosing to work with and make sure they do background checks on their employees. This is for the safety of your tenant and their property. Keep a close monitor on who has access to the unit and when.
  • Provide project updates: Communicate any changes to the project’s timeline to the tenant quickly. Allow the tenant to ask questions and raise concerns, if they have any.  
  • Stay involved: It’s not your tenant’s responsibility to manage the project. Stay involved and visit the tenant often to relay information to contractors or answer questions. Don’t leave the tenant in an awkward position of having to give information or answer questions.

Maintaining a beautiful and safe rental property is an important part of investing in a successful apartment complex. Having good relationships with your tenants is an even bigger part of being successful. Are you looking to renovate a tenant-occupied space? Alterra Construction Services has a dedicated and skilled team to help your renovations become a reality, and we are practiced in courteously renovating tenant-occupied units. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 615-438-5734.