Flooding in an apartment is extremely stressful for tenants. Not only will they have to deal with damage to personal belongings, but, depending on the extent of the flooding, there is the danger to health and the possibility of structural damage to the home.
Here’s a quick guide on what to do when the apartment you’re renting, floods:
Identify the source
The first step towards solving a flooding problem is to identify its source. Flooding can come from burst pipes, overflowing sinks, toilets or leaking roofs. Bear in mind that the problem may not emanate from your home but the apartment adjacent or above yours.
Finding your apartment’s main water valve and shutting it will stop water from entering the apartment once the water in circulation has run out. If it’s coming from another apartment, you can just knock on their door and ask if they need help shutting theirs.
Flooding can also be caused by hurricanes and heavy rains. In this case, little can be done to stop it, and you must focus on evacuation, as well as salvaging your most important belongings. In such circumstances, safety should always be prioritized.
Make sure everyone is safe
Under certain circumstances, even a small amount of water can be dangerous. This is especially true if the flooding is caused by a burst sewer pipe, or if the flooding happens in an area which has exposed electrical wiring. If you’re faced with this situation, call for help from professional plumbers, as they will be better equipped to deal with the problem.
Document the damage
Once the flooding has subsided and it’s safe to go back to your apartment, document the extent of the damage it has sustained through photos and videos.
This is an important step, since both your insurer and your landlord will require documentation in order to process your claims and proceed with the repair and restoration process.
Secure your belongings
Before your landlord starts any major repairs and cleanup, move your belongings out of the flooded apartment. You can either move your valuable items to a storage facility, or your temporary accommodation until your home is fit for purpose again.
Request for apartment repairs and cleanup
Regardless of the extent of the flooding, this process generally involves drying out the affected areas, discarding any materials that are beyond repair, and treating wet areas for mold growth.
In certain cases — such as when the flood is caused by faulty sewage pipes — your landlord may be required to dispose of soft and porous household materials that have been soaked in contaminated water.
Finding an emergency shelter
If the flooding is severe and may need a few days’ worth of work to fix, you may need to find temporary accommodation. If the flooding was caused by either a storm or a plumbing issue, then you can ask the landlord to recompense you for alternative accommodation but this is a blurry legal field and if your landlord refuses, you are not guaranteed to win should you take legal action.
Notify your neighbors
If you live above another unit, make sure to notify your downstairs neighbors about your apartment’s flooding problem. This will allow them to take the necessary steps to secure their belongings and minimize any damage to their apartment.
Schedule additional repairs and cleanup
Under current laws, your landlord will only be responsible for repairs related to the apartment’s overall structure and any appliances that came with it. Because of this, you may have to hire professional cleaning and repair services to fully restore your apartment and any personal belongings you may have brought, such as furniture.
If the flooding was significant and was not caused by your negligence, you may be able to persuade your landlord to shoulder at least half of the professional cleaning’s cost.
Terminate your lease
Landlords are required by law to keep their properties in a livable condition.
You may ask to terminate your lease without penalty if your rental apartment ends up with too much damage to remain livable — especially if the flooding happened due to natural causes or negligence on the landlord’s part.
A flooded apartment is the last thing a tenant wants to be in. Thankfully, you can easily find new apartments anywhere in Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee with the help of Sundance Property Management.