Keeping up with roof repairs is an essential part of building maintenance. Even roofing with the best care will begin to wear down. Years of weather damage will eventually mean you need a roof replacement. This can be a complex and time-consuming project if you own a multi-residential or commercial building. The most complex part of being working with the tenants.

Working With Tenants When Tearing Off Roofs

Tenants pay good money to live or work in a home or office and do not want to be in a construction site. But when it becomes necessary to remove a roof there needs to be a balance between your tenants and contractors. Here are some important considerations when it comes to roof work in an occupied building.

Communication Is a Top Priority

Good and open communication will help your project succeed better than almost anything else. Your lease will most likely have specific requirements regarding communicating planned construction with your tenants. Make sure you familiarize yourself with your specific tenants’ rights during construction. Communicate all information regarding the tear-off project with the tenants as quickly as possible.
Some of the important information you need to relay to the tenants includes:

  • The date work will start and the expected duration of the project.
  • The scale of the roof work and if it involves a full or partial replacement.
  • Why the work is being done.
  • How contractors will access the roof, especially if they will be using common areas also used by tenants.
  • If areas of the parking lot or any entrances will be off-limits during working hours.
  • Any expected noise, odors, or dust that might enter the building and what measures you are taking to limit tenant exposure.
  • If the HVAC systems will be turned off at any point during the work and for how long.
  • If any equipment needs to be turned off temporarily.

You can post this information in common areas as well as send out emails. Remember that it is easy for people to quickly scan over posted notices instead of reading them in detail, so use as many communication channels as you can to make sure the tenants get the information they need. You should also send reminders and updates through the project, especially when significant project elements are reached. Also, make sure you identify a specific individual they can contact with any questions or concerns. This will help put your tenants’ minds at ease during what can be a disruptive process

Access and Storage for Contractors

Work with contractors to establish procedures for accessing the roof and storing materials in a way that won’t disrupt your tenant’s daily routines. While your lease identifies your landlord responsibilities for repair, keeping the process out of your tenants’ direct line of sight will help things run more smoothly. You may have the option to have contractors use a service elevator or to roof access through a mechanical room. It is also a good idea to block off a few parking spots as a designated storage area for roofing materials.

Managing Tenant Complaints

Even with the best communication in place, you should still be prepared to deal with complaints. Most complaints will be about noise and odor. Odor can cause tenants to become concerned about their health even when there is no risk. Managing odor and related indoor air quality during roof work is an essential component in reducing tenant complaints. Some helpful tips to help manage odors during roof work include:

  • Have contractors keep roof kettles downwind of air intakes and keep them at the lowest possible temperature.
  • If kettles can’t be moved downwind, close air intakes and windows.
  • If weather permits, shut off the HVAC system, keeping in mind that keeping it off too long can have other negative impacts on indoor air quality.
  • Schedule work with higher-odor material outside of normal business hours.


Should you receive any complaints make sure you are as proactive and as responsive as possible. It is not possible to avoid all noises and odors but you can minimize exposure for the tenants and they will be more tolerant if they know you’re working in good faith. You should also stress that you are choosing a long-term solution that ensures you are trying to limit the disruption to tenants in future years. For any assistance with tear-off projects or questions regarding tenants, please reach out to us today. We will help make sure your tenants are a top priority at all times.


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