What Do I Do When My House Floods?
Dealing with the aftermath of a house flood is always difficult. It is an emotionally difficult time for everyone – both landlord and tenant. Damage from flooding only gets worse as time goes on, thus it is important to act quickly! As an owner of a rental property there are several things you should know and understand about your responsibility as you begin the recovery process. The most important fact is, home flood coverage is typically NOT included in a property policy. Flood coverage can be purchased, but it requires a separate policy and most times the flood policy requires a 30 day waiting period before it takes effect.
Most landlords are not responsible for insuring their tenants. However, a landlord could be responsible for covering replacement of items if they are responsible for the damage. But in most cases, your tenants should have their own renter’s insurance policy to cover their belongings. Renters insurance is generally fairly cheap and something all landlord’s should recommend their tenants own.
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- The landlord is responsible for the building structure itself as well as flooring, wiring, plumbing, and appliances; i.e., pretty much anything you provided to the tenant as part of their rent.[su_spacer]
- The landlord has responsibility to repair the unit so that it’s habitable and livable once again and this means that the repairs must be made as quickly as possible. If the repairs are not made within a reasonable time, the tenant could withhold rent, hire the work to get done, or even notify local authorities.[su_spacer]
- When a flood happens and you learn there is damage, immediately report the claim to your insurance company. (Please note: most insurance policies require you pay for home flood coverage separately from your regular policy.)[su_spacer]
- Whether you have home flood insurance or not, it will be very important to carefully track the expenses incurred as a result of the flood, including all material purchases, labor, travel, etc. If your insurance covers the flood, you will need to submit your expenses to them for reimbursement. If your insurance does not cover the flooding expenses, at the very least you will need the receipts for the next tax filing season.[su_spacer]
- In most states, landlords must provide 24-48 hours notice before entering the rental property; however, in the event of an emergency this does not apply.[su_spacer]
Tenant and Renter Insurance Information
- Renters insurance, most known for providing coverage for replacement of personal items if your stuff is damaged, ruined or stolen, also has other benefits.[su_spacer]
- Most renter insurance policies cover the cost of temporary relocation and normal living expenses in the event the location where the renter lived was damaged in such a way to make it unlivable. When the house floods, if the renter’s insurance policy does not specifically include home flood coverage, the damage and loss associated with flood will not be covered. Each policy has different limits and terms. It is important your tenants understand the limits of their policy. Regardless of how the event occurred resulting in damage, the landlord should encourage the tenant to report the event to his/her insurance company.[su_spacer]
- If the tenant has to relocate as a result of damages due to the house flooding or other significant damage, the tenant is not responsible for paying rent during that time.[su_spacer]
- The tenant will have the opportunity to cancel the lease at that time they are displaced due to the damages. However, they must notify the landlord or property manager soon after leaving the property.[su_spacer]
- If the damage does not require relocation but is a significant inconvenience, the tenant may request a rent adjustment.[su_spacer]
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This is a broad-level overview of the things to know about being a landlord when your house floods. Every situation will have its own nuances. When in doubt, go to your attorney, accountant, or insurance agent and get the guidance you need.
Here are some additional links that provide some good information:
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