Most states do not require a landlord to provide alternative accommodation during repairs. Colorado and Virginia are notable exceptions. A few other states let tenants bill landlords for some alternative housing.
States Where the Landlord Must Provide Alternative Accommodation
Only Colorado and Virginia require a landlord to find and provide alternative accommodation.
In Colorado, tenants may request new housing under certain conditions. The landlord selects and provides a hotel room or comparable unit, at no cost to the tenant. The tenant pays rent as usual during repairs.
In Virginia, the landlord decides whether new housing is necessary. Tenants get 30 days of notice by default before moving. The landlord selects and provides a hotel room or comparable unit, at no cost to the tenant. Like in Colorado, the tenant pays rent as usual.
States Where the Tenant Can Bill for Alternative Accommodation
In these states, tenants can only seek alternative housing in severe situations. There must be a failure of essential services like central heating. This must be due to the landlord’s deliberate or negligent action.
After meeting these conditions, tenants can find new housing. They pay for it themselves, but can stop rent. Tenants can also often bill the landlord for some extra rental costs.
States With No Standards for Alternative Accommodation
Most states have no rules requiring alternative accommodation. This doesn’t mean tenants must pay for a unit they can’t use. Tenants have the right to use property they rent as intended.
If tenants can’t live on a property because of repairs, in most cases they can find new housing. Once they’ve moved, they can stop rent payments during repairs. Most states don’t make tenants pay for a property they can’t use.
Consequences for Landlord Failure to Provide Alternative Accommodation
Tenants can often move out if a landlord doesn’t provide (or pay for) needed alternative accommodation. The name for this is “constructive eviction.” This is something that forces tenants to move, without physically locking them out.
Constructive eviction lets the tenant abandon the lease and move out. Deliberate misconduct might also let the tenant sue for punitive damages.