What is a Constructive Eviction?

June 28, 2022

Maybe you don’t have the best tenant. Or rents have gone up and you can get more for your rental and a potentially better tenant, but your current tenant doesn’t want to move, what do you do?

One thing some landlords do is not ignore requests from the tenants for repairs needed at the home and hope the tenants will decide to move out on their own. You’re not the first one to think of this tactic and it’s not a good one and we’ll go over why. What you’re doing could be considered a constructive eviction and you may be breaking the law.

What is a constructive eviction?

  • If you’re interfering with your tenant’s use and enjoyment of the rental property either through your actions or inactions.
  • You ignore repairs requested by the tenant that you have been notified about.
  • Your tenants move out within a reasonable time after you have done or not done something affecting their use and enjoyment of the property.

Examples of a constructive eviction:

  • Visiting the property too often and without notice.
  • No hot water.
  • No heat in winter or air conditioning in summer (depending on temperatures).

What happens if you do a constructive eviction? Can you get in trouble for doing a constructive eviction?

Your tenants can sue you for trying to illegally evict them and you may not only need to fix the things they requested but you may also owe them extra money in damages on top of it! 

Many landlords drag their feet doing repairs major repairs while trying to get estimates and the best deal on replacing a water heater or air conditioning unit and may not be aware that at a certain point the tenant has the option to either get the repair done themselves and deduct the cost from the rent or move and sue for being constructively evicted. 

Therefore, we recommend being proactive and replacing major systems before they break after their useful life has expired. If you wait until a water heater or air conditioner breaks, it may happen on a weekend or holiday or during a heat wave when vendors are busy and have higher rates due to increased demand.

If you have a home warranty, your home warranty may not do repairs in an acceptable time and get you into trouble with your tenants and the lease. If your home warranty company is dragging on getting repairs done, sometimes it’s best for you to handle yourself and try and get reimbursed later. If you don’t get reimbursed by the warranty company, it’s probably best to get a new home warranty company or eliminate your home warranty altogether. Any potential savings on repairs are not worth being sued by your tenant which costs you time and money, possibly rental income, vacancy costs, and any damages the courts potentially award your tenant for a constructive eviction.

If you have any questions about how we handle repairs in a timely manner, schedule a call. We have many reliable vendors that we work with to ensure we stay within legal limits preventing any lawsuits from tenants.