renovating an apartment

Can Landlords Do Renovations While Occupied? Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities

Can Landlords Do Renovations While Occupied?

Home rental dynamics require balancing landlord and tenant obligations and entitlements. This relationship requires understanding property upgrade rules while tenants are living there. Whether you’re a property owner or a tenant, it’s essential to be well-versed in the allowable and prohibited aspects of property alterations during an active lease agreement. But, can landlords do renovations while occupied?

This article explores the complexities of this topic and provides practical advice to help landlords and tenants handle these situations fairly. We will discuss scenarios, rights, responsibilities, and best practices to maintain a harmonious living environment during renovations.

Short Answer

Yes, a landlord can renovate an occupied property, but with restrictions. Building renovations during tenancy depends on state laws, the lease, and the type of renovations. 

Generally, landlords can upgrade or repair their properties as long as they give tenants enough notice and keep them habitable and safe. However, renovations should not interfere with tenants’ quiet enjoyment of the property. This is why landlords must inform tenants of the work’s duration and impact on their living space. 

On the other hand, tenants should know their rights and any lease provisions that may affect their ability to dispute or negotiate these renovations. Therefore, maintaining and improving the property while allowing tenants to live peacefully is crucial.

Can Tenants Deny the Request for Renovations?

The lease agreement, renovations, and state laws determine whether tenants can deny a landlord’s renovation request. 

Tenants cannot refuse maintenance and safety renovations like fixing a leaky roof or updating electrical wiring. These are mandatory renovations for a landlord to keep the property habitable and safe. However, non-essential renovations may give tenants more leeway to negotiate or delay, especially if they disrupt their living conditions.

To understand renovation rights, tenants should also review their lease agreement. Some leases explicitly allow certain renovations, while others are more restrictive. When extensive renovations require tenants to leave, the landlord may need to offer alternative accommodations or negotiate a rent reduction or lease termination. 

Furthermore, tenant rights during renovations vary by state. In some states, tenants can request reasonable accommodations or compensation for renovation-related inconveniences. 

Tenants should also learn about local housing laws to understand their rights and how to resolve disputes. These situations require landlord-tenant communication to reach a compromise that minimizes disruption and respects both parties’ rights.

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State Specific Laws

Here are three examples of how state renovation laws vary:

  • California

California landlords must give tenants 24 hours’ written notice before entering for non-emergency repairs or renovations. The California Civil Code Section 1954 states this. 

In cities with strict rent control laws like San Francisco or Los Angeles, California law may require landlords to provide temporary relocation assistance for tenants who must leave for major renovations.

  • New York

In New York City, the Housing Maintenance Code requires landlords to keep properties habitable. If renovations disrupt this, the tenant may get a lower rent. To minimize tenant disruption, New York City limits residential construction and renovation hours.

  • Texas

In Texas, landlords must give “reasonable” notice for non-emergency renovations or repairs. This usually means 24 hours. Texas law emphasizes the landlord’s duty to make habitability-essential repairs. In some cases, tenants can repair and deduct the cost from rent if a landlord fails to do so.

Scenarios Where Tenants Must Accept for Renovations to Take Place

When renovations are necessary for safety, habitability, or legal compliance, tenants must accept them. Common scenarios include repairs and maintenance, health and safety compliance, and legal obligations like building code compliance.

  • Essential Repairs and Maintenance

If a property needs major repairs like heating, plumbing, or roofing, tenants must usually allow them. These are crucial for home safety and habitability.

  • Compliance with Health and Safety Standards

Tenants usually cannot negotiate health and safety renovations. This can include asbestos removal, smoke detector installation, and property updates to meet health and safety standards.

  • Legal and Building Code Compliance

Sometimes, properties must be updated to meet new building codes or laws. These may include structural, accessibility, or legal changes. This usually requires tenants to adapt. 

In all cases, landlords must give adequate notice, minimise disruption, and keep the property habitable during renovations. To make renovations go smoothly, both parties must communicate and understand each other’s needs.

What Are Tenant Rights During Renovation?

Tenants have several rights during renovations to protect their interests and maintain their living conditions. These rights are usually in the lease and governed by state and local housing laws. Among the most important tenant rights are:

  • Right to Notice

Generally, tenants are entitled to get prior notification before renovations commence. This notice should explain the work, its duration, and any major impacts on their living environment.

  • Right to Habitability

Habitable property must be maintained during renovations. This includes maintaining water, electricity, heat, and a safe, sanitary property.

  • Right to Quiet Enjoyment

Tenants deserve quiet enjoyment of their property. Renovations can be noisy, but disruptions should be reasonable and within agreed-upon hours.

  • Right to Compensation or Rent Adjustment

If renovations significantly disrupt the tenant’s living situation or require them to vacate the property, they may be entitled to compensation, a rent reduction, or alternative accommodations.

  • Right to Terminate Lease

Depending on lease terms and renovations, tenants may be able to terminate early without the penalty of a re-letting charge.

Does the Tenant Have to Pay Full Rent During the Renovation Period?

The extent of the renovations, their impact on habitability, and the lease agreement can all affect whether a tenant must pay full rent during renovations.

  • Minor Renovations

Tenants usually pay full rent for minor renovations that do not affect their use. Examples include painting, minor repairs, and upgrades that do not disrupt tenants.

  • Major Renovations

For major renovations that affect habitability or accessibility, tenants may be able to negotiate a rent reduction or suspension. This is especially important if they cannot use large parts of the property or essential services are interrupted.

  • Temporary Relocation

If tenants must leave during renovations and the landlord does not provide alternative housing, they may not be responsible for rent.

  • Negotiated Agreements

The lease may specify renovations and rent adjustments. Tenants and landlords can negotiate a fair agreement that acknowledges the renovations’ impact on the tenant’s living situation.

In all cases, landlord-tenant communication and negotiation are really crucial. Tenants should know their rights and talk to landlords. Legal advice may be needed in complex disputes.

How Much Notice Must a Landlord Give Before Carrying Out Renovations?

A landlord must give notice before renovating based on state and local laws and the lease agreement. For non-emergency renovations, landlords must give tenants enough notice. Depending on the renovations, this can take days or weeks.

  • Standard Notice Periods

Many states have notice duration rules. Minor repairs may require a 24-48-hour notice, while major renovations may require 30 days or more.

  • Emergency Repairs

Emergency repairs to address safety hazards or prevent property damage may allow landlords to enter the property with minimal or no notice.

  • Lease Agreement Terms

Renovation notice requirements may be in the lease. Tenants should read their lease for such provisions.

  • Communication is Key

Despite legal requirements, landlord communication can help manage tenant expectations and streamline renovations.

Tips to Help Minimise Disruption to Tenants During Renovation Period

Maintaining landlord-tenant relations requires minimising tenant disruption during renovations. Below are some suggestions for landlords:

  • Plan and Communicate

Prepare for renovations and inform tenants of the schedule, nature, and duration. Make sure they are informed of any updates. 

  • Consider Timing

Avoid renovations in the morning, evening, or weekend when tenants may be home and disturbed.

  • Ensure Safety

Keep the work area safe and mark or isolate hazards from the tenant’s living space.

  • Maintain Essential Services

If water, electricity, and heating must be interrupted, give tenants plenty of notice and minimize the downtime.

  • Offer Compensation or Incentives

Offer rent reductions, temporary housing, or other incentives to offset major inconveniences.

  • Be Responsive

Be available and responsive to tenants’ concerns and complaints during the renovation period.

What Happens If the Tenant Isn’t Happy With the Renovations?

There are a few options available to tenants who are dissatisfied with the renovations:

  • Communication

Tenants should first notify landlords. Clear communication can resolve minor issues and misunderstandings.

  • Review Lease Agreement

Review your lease agreement to understand your rights and property alteration provisions.

  • Seek Mediation

Mediation may be necessary if direct communication fails. An impartial third party can help resolve issues.

  • Legal Advice

Tenants may need legal advice if there is a major dispute or if renovations change the lease terms.

  • Housing Authorities

Contact local housing authorities or tenant advocacy groups for serious issues, especially habitability or legal compliance.


Landlords and tenants must understand renovation dynamics during a tenancy. Renovations are allowed if landlords give enough notice and keep the property habitable. Tenants have rights that protect their living conditions and property enjoyment.

Renovating an occupied property requires good communication, legal knowledge, and respect. Both parties should negotiate and accommodate each other’s needs to keep the property safe and pleasant.

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