We own a house in Alaska that we rent out through a property management company. Saturday night (8 pm) the power went out to the house. The electric company came to investigate and found that the meter base had failed. It turns out that that repair is our responsibility. So the property manager was calling contractors until midnight on Saturday, found one over the weekend who will coordinate the work, and they are acquiring parts and scheduling an electrician. It is now Monday night there and we got an email from the property manager. The tenants have chosen to get a hotel because the temperature is in the 20s at night. They are saving receipts and asking for compensation. That sounds reasonable to me - I am thinking we will look at the hotel rates in the area and deduct the "going rate" from their rent for the number of days they were in the hotel. I have no idea if they are going to ask for food or per diem.
They are arguing with the property manager because there is a generator on the property. We never used it; in fact we disconnected it before we moved because we didn't want to pay to have it serviced and worry about upkeep (it is pretty old). This is what the property manager sent me:
"The tenant is claiming the generator did not work when the power went out and claims it is required to because it is a part of the house. He asked about the generator shortly after they moved in. I informed him that I knew nothing about it but he can investigate and if it is usable he can use it for back up power. Today he insisted there is a responsibility for us to provide a working generator. My reply was it is not documented in the lease, therefore it is his responsibility if he wishes to use it. I informed him at this time the generator will not be started because work is being performed on the electrical system and the system is not properly locked out for the workers."
Ok, that seems ridiculous to me. We are not responsible for providing a working generator! Most homes do not have them. We rarely have power outages that last more than a couple of hours. This reminds me of how they complained that the asphalt on the driveway was faulty - it was installed during a heat wave and took a little longer to cure. They wanted something done about it (okay, wait it out! That will fix it!). I think they are acting entitled. I bet they are the sort of people who expect their meal to be comped at restaurants if it takes ten minutes or the silverware has spots. So this makes me not feel like being too generous to them.
The landlord tenant law for Alaska states that the landlord has to provide heat. I totally agree with that. If I was a tenant, I would be ticked if I was paying for a hotel while the power was off. I think we should help them out (from our deep, deep pockets, of course). But what would you say (if anything) about the generator?
The power was restored on that Friday. A generator had been brought in after 2 days without power, and so the fridge was without power for only 2 days according to the property manager. Before the generator was turned on, the temp was professionally recorded at 60 F. So the heat is not the big issue to me, but the lack of water (well pump) is. The tenants turned in receipts and are asking for $700 compensation for food, gas, and time. Here is their breakdown:
$408 for hotel fees - 3 nights @ $90/night (good rate) plus $40 per night for their pet fee, plus tax.
$43 for groceries to eat in hotel room (note - their hotel was 3 minutes from the house, just down the road. They bought canned soups, crackers, fruit & veggies, bread, mayo, lunchmeat). I am inclined to say NO to this since they could have retrieved that food from the house.
$62 for two restaurant breakfasts. Hotel didn't have a breakfast buffet - but I think restaurant breakfasts should not be my responsibility. The hotel had a fridge & microwave - they could have made oatmeal or eaten yogurt or cereal, like we do every day instead of driving to a restaurant and ordering $13 meals.
$22 for a pizza for dinner
$55 for food lost in the fridge power-outage (meat, cheese, veggies)
$51 gas ????? This makes no sense to me at all. The hotel was 3 miles from the house, and all the stores they went to were within walking distance of the hotel.
This totals up to about $640, and they want $60 for their "time."
My thoughts - The food bills are silly. The gas is ridiculous. They have renter's insurance and can file a claim through that if they wish.
So I am thinking of telling the property manager:
The tenant's renter's insurance likely covers them in this situation. We are already out $3k+ for an electrical system that was fine when we left the house in June.
Looking over the receipts, I am a little surprised at a few things. One is that they seem to have not brought perishable food from the house into the hotel. That would have saved them food expenses while staying in the hotel, and would have saved that food from spoilage by being left in the refrigerator. I am also surprised that they want us to pay for their restaurant meals, since their hotel had a fridge & microwave, and they had already bought soups & sandwich fixings to eat in the hotel. If it had been me, I would have eaten oatmeal & yogurt (like the yogurt they apparently left in the house fridge) for breakfast instead of going out to a restaurant. Replacing food left in the refrigerator is surprising to me, since I am fairly certain the food could have been moved to the garage and kept at a safe temperature, and food in the freezer could have been placed outside at 20 degrees F. So given all that, I feel that their food expenses were unnecessary and not our responsiblity.
I do not understand the gas receipt at all. The hotel is 1 mile further from Anchorage than the house, and the Walmart, cafe, and pizza place are all within 1 mile of the hotel. As far as I can see, any increase in fuel is negligible.
I feel comfortable crediting their rent for the 5 days that the house was without power, and they can file a claim through their renter's insurance.
--- I am trying to be fair to myself here, and not just rolling over and paying them for their drama. Does this seem reasonable?
Edited by ondreeuh, 03 November 2017 - 04:05 AM.