Choosing rental properties comes with its perks. The initial investment is cheap as opposed to the finance involved in buying a property. Furthermore, you can save yourself from the periodic upkeep and renovation costs. However, what if you come across common hurdles of property damage, especially water damage?
Most people overlook the possibility of property damage, especially water damage, when signing the lease contract. By the time you encounter such a mishap, it might be too late.
As a tenant, you need to understand several rights and responsibilities, saving both time and effort in cases of mishaps like water damage.
Review your lease multiple times to clearly understand what you agree to before signing it. In most cases, the landlord should have the property insured against damages. If it looks vague, ask your landlord how the insurance applies specifically in case of water damage.
Look for these pointers in your lease concerning water damage:
Eviction: whether your landlord can evict you in cases of partial or total water damage
Cancellation: whether you have the right to cancel the contract if the property is partially or fully destroyed due to water damage
Rent: review the different rental clauses if water damage occurs. For instance, if you cancel the lease, should you pay the final month’s rent?
Habitability: if the property handed to you turns out to be unsanitary, do you have the option to cancel the lease? Instances of tenants finding hidden water leaks or damages after post-occupancy is not a rarity.
Personal property damage
Water damage to personal belongings could be the biggest concern to any tenant. Who is at fault in such situations? This usually boils down to who was responsible for water damage in the first place.
As a tenant, you could be at fault if the damage occurred due to your negligence:
- Leaving a faucet running overnight
- Failing to report the damage on time
- Not regulating the heat levels during winter might cause the pipes to freeze and eventually burst
These are just some of the instances that could make you pay for your belongings and property damages.
The landlord is responsible for the damage of your personal belongings if:
- If he delays the repair works even after it was reported on time
- If he fails to perform maintenance works as agreed in the lease
- If hidden water damages were discovered
On some occasions, water damage occurs, and both you and the landlord cannot be held accountable. Mostly your neighbors are the culprits in such circumstances. Your neighbor forgetting to turn off their tub or not addressing a leak on time can cause water to sweep through the floor or roof onto your apartment.
On such occasions, your neighboring tenant can be held responsible for the damage, provided you have sufficient proof.
The landlord is responsible for ensuring that the property handed over is habitable and sanitary. He inevitably schedules routine maintenance runs on time.
The landlord must have supervision of all the plumbing fixtures, including toilets, tubs, and sinks. If the water damage is caused from any of these fixtures, the landlord is held responsible for repairs and damage to personal belongings.
Ensure that you have sufficient records of anything related to the damages incurred involving proof of communication and pictures of the consequences.
Responsibilities & Rights of the Tenant
To summarize, as a tenant, you need it is ideal to be knowledgeable and perform some of your duties listed below:
- Understand the terms in the contract
- Maintain the unit sanitary
- Timely reporting of any damage or concerns
Water damage to properties is common, foresee the possibilities and put in the effort from the minute you start searching for apartments.