Tenting for termites, tenting for shelter?
August 9, 2017 9:09 PM   Subscribe

Got an email from my landlord today telling me he'll be tenting the building for termites in two weeks. He wants to just waive rent for those four days, but my household is three adults and a dog and we can't stay (and eat!) in any motel for that little. What do I do? Complications inside.

I've lived in this 2bd/2ba in Long Beach, California for 10 years, and my landlord and I have an unspoken "You don't bother me, I don't bother you" relationship. I don't ask him to fix anything (except serious problems, like a broken water heater) and he has not raised my rent since I've been here. My rent is $1275, and while it's in what you might charitably call a transitional neighborhood, that certainly seems like a good deal to me. I like it here and do not want to move, well, ever.

But lordy, even one motel room for three adults (my two adult children -- one working, one sick -- and me) and a dog, plus meals! I actually can swing the cost, if I need to. I just don't think the deal he's offering is fair. And I know that even if I accept it, there's no guarantee that our groovy mutual indifference will last -- he may well raise my rent, any time he likes, to recoup some of the cost of the tenting. I cannot make up my mind whether to ask for something more equitable, or suck it up. And if I did ask for more, how would I do that?

What would you do?
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Human Relations (19 answers total)
1. Ask for assistance on covering the cost of a place. Even if he'd go in for half, that is something.
2. Be aware that when they tent they often need to have the windows open, so take ALL valuables with you. You should get documentation before tenting.
posted by Toddles at 9:17 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

It seems to me the price of a hotel room and meals for four days is a tiny fraction of the amount you've saved by not having your rent raised in ten years. If I were you I'd just pay for the hotel myself in the hopes of not making waves or triggering a "fine, then, I'll just raise their rent to get my money back and then some" response.
posted by hazyjane at 9:38 PM on August 9, 2017 [38 favorites]

Do you have rental insurance? This could cover your motel costs.
posted by captaincrouton at 9:41 PM on August 9, 2017 [11 favorites]

It probably wouldn't hurt to ask nicely for relocation assistance. I'd definitely ask more questions about the logistics of the tenting, such as if he will be supplying you with Nylofume bags in a quantity sufficient to double bag all of the medications and food (including dog food) in your pantry, fridge and freezer. If not, you'll have to take it with you.

Take your houseplants or they will die. Aquariums too, if you have any.

In your shoes, I'd be wondering if he was tenting as part of prep to put the house on the market. Yes, California is brimming with termites but it's such a hassle/expense to tent (and the termites come right backā€”the fumigation warranty is rarely longer than 5 years) that many homes are only tented as a condition of sale.
posted by jamaro at 9:51 PM on August 9, 2017 [10 favorites]

This is undoubtedly addressed in the civil code. If you don't find a definitive answer here or online with a tenants rights group, you can also call the California Depqrtment of Consumer Affairs. They are really helpful. They have a tenant landlord division, and they also publish a handbook you can see online or download.

There is a code for practically any tenant landlord issue.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:01 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

What hazyjane said...
posted by rmmcclay at 10:05 PM on August 9, 2017

he may well raise my rent, any time he likes, to recoup some of the cost of the tenting.

Your rent is absurdly cheap for Long Beach, CA. I have no idea why you don't consider the deal "fair" (noting that no business deal needs to be fair) given that it's quite possible your landlord could double your rent and still have potential tenants. Do you really want to trigger your landlord to reconsider your existing deal (which is worth literally thousands of dollars per year) just so that you can avoid paying for a couple motel rooms for a few days (which is worth, say, a couple hundred dollars as a one-time expense)?
posted by saeculorum at 10:05 PM on August 9, 2017 [9 favorites]

Maybe some good friend can take the beastie in for a few days? Maybe the not sick kid has a pal to stay with, or a fun road trip to take? Or mitigate the food cost by looking for a motel with a kitchenette and lay in some supplies. Reduce the cost if you can. Poke the landlord only if you must, and at some peril.
posted by vrakatar at 10:22 PM on August 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

Dude. Your rent hasn't been raised in 10 years? I haven't lived in Long Beach for 10+ years and $1275 seemed decent to me in 2003 prices; a quick Craigslist and Westside Rentals search for 2 beds/2 baths with dog allowed adds up to, for me, a big flashing sign that reads DO NOT SCREW THIS UP, DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT POKE THE LANDLORD.

Do your own search. Would you be paying a couple hundred bucks more a month at least outside of your current situation? Put one or two months of that savings towards a hotel room, add it to the $175 you'll get from him, ask a friend to watch the dog if you can and call it good. Rental code might call for more but geez, as an admittedly risk-adverse person I would really be trying to fly so far under the radar here I'd be swimming in the earth's molten core.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:30 PM on August 9, 2017 [26 favorites]

If your landlord had raised your rent by just 3% every year since you moved in, you'd be paying (by my back-of-the-envelope calculations) about $1665/month now, which means you've saved close to $22,500 over the past decade, and are currently saving about $390/month.

Take the compensation from the landlord, swing the rest, and keep your fingers crossed you never lose your rental situation. My partner and I are in a similarly too-good-to-be-true rental, and we literally lose sleep at night wondering how on earth we'll be able to afford to stay in our city once the landlord dies and his kids sell the property to the developers who've been salivating over it for a decade.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 11:13 PM on August 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

These are two different issues. I don't think saying "hey, we're actually having to spend $600, and eat out on top of that, and so I'm wondering if you might be able to give us $300 instead of $175 [or whatever]" would be too much. Whatever has led to that lack of increase (e.g., you not bugging him to upgrade the carpet or whatever) will either remain intact or not, but not be derailed by this in particular, as long as you make clear that you're still meeting him more than halfway. But if you started nitpicking about who's buying the garbage bags or whether he's paying for you to eat out at nice restaurants, that might annoy him. That's just my instinct, but you know him best.
posted by salvia at 1:23 AM on August 10, 2017

My instinct is not to screw with it. That's probably a fairer deal for other tenants who are probably paying more than you, but on the other hand, your rent would make them weep tears of envy. I'd suck up the hotel room for a few days.
posted by corb at 10:50 AM on August 10, 2017

Get renter's insurance - it'll cover this in the future (and potentially now?). Plus it's a very good (and affordable) thing to have no matter what.
posted by R a c h e l at 11:19 AM on August 10, 2017

OP, I don't think you should do anything that you think will jeopardize your current situation, but I think it's always a good idea to know what your rights are. Your landlord knows theirs.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:22 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Take the deal, and mentally consider it paid for by your lucky savings over the years.

Can you make any compromises to find cheaper accommodations, like deal with a place that's farther away? You can use filters on Agoda.com to find places that feature a kitchenette.
posted by reeddavid at 6:35 PM on August 10, 2017

Y'all have spoken; I booked a place on Air BnB tonight -- expensive but hey, it will be kinda fun, and I'll see if my renter's insurance can help with the cost!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 8:50 PM on August 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Renters insurance claims are also probably not a good idea here. Rental insurance (like home insurance) is low priced assuming effectively zero claims. The moment you make a claim (especially a relatively low value claim), you are now a statistically non profitable customer. In many states, rental insurance providers can cancel your policy after a single claim. Further, insurance companies share information about claims so you can end up effectively blacklisted.
posted by saeculorum at 9:38 PM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another note on your renter's insurance: insurance companies will try to recover costs if someone else is responsible. So if your claim is "my landlord made my home uninhabitable and I incurred this expense as a direct result" they would probably try to recover the cost from the landlord.
posted by reeddavid at 12:25 AM on August 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am not getting the answers I wanted here. :)
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 7:50 PM on August 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

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