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What if a Natural Disaster Strikes After a Resident Pays the Monthly Rent?

Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes can make a single-family residence uninhabitable and require that residents evacuate. If the residence becomes uninhabitable for a long period, the landlord may need to release the resident from the lease. This raises an interesting question: If a resident pays rent on the first of month, and then a natural disaster strikes on the fourth of the month, making the property uninhabitable for several months, and the landlord thus releases the resident from the lease, would the landlord then need to refund that month’s rent?

Yes. In order to collect rent, the property must be habitable and remain so throughout the lease.

No. Rent once collected, becomes the landlord’s and does not need to be refunded.

 

The correct answer is Yes. A property must be fit for human habitation in order to collect rent. Additionally, the security deposit would need to be returned. A landlord can not keep a security deposit to cover damage caused by a natural disaster.

However, if a natural disaster strikes and only makes a property uninhabitable for a short period, then the resident could still be responsible for the terms of the lease. Additionally, the resident would be responsible for any damage to personal property, including vehicles. The resident would also be liable for any transportation for evacuation, as well as hotel/lodging, food, day care, pet boarding, moving expenses and utilities etc. The resident also could not request monetary reimbursement for the inconvenience of leaving during a natural disaster.

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