What to Do If Your Apartment Floods
Flooding is, to put it mildly, no fun to go through. Between the amount of damage done, the stress of dealing with it, and trying to get back on your feet afterwards, you’re going to have a lot to deal with.
We can’t help you deal with the stress directly, but with some precautions and additional knowledge, we can at least help you know what you need to do.
The first thing that you should do is get renter’s insurance. It’s cheap (usually no more than a few hundred dollars a year) and covers you for more than just floods; fire and theft are also often included. It isn’t a legal requirement, but some landlords will require it, and considering the low price, it’s a great deal anyway. If something happens to property in your apartment (or car), renter’s insurance will often cover it.
To protect more directly from flooding, check for leaks coming from rain or your appliances regularly. If you find anything, report it and insist that they address the leak quickly. The best way to keep a problem from getting out of hand is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
You also want to keep your most valuable items away from the most likely places to get hit by flooding. Things like electronics shouldn’t be sitting on the floor near the kitchen or bathroom, as one example. This both keeps them from flooding and gives you more time to get to things if water is rising and you need to get things out.
Finally, get management’s emergency phone number and make sure you’ve saved it. It isn’t good for just flooding, but anything that happens unexpectedly and needs immediate attention.
During the flood
When the flood starts, get everything you can away from the water. Take your valuables that you can move and get them into your car, into another room, or into the neighbor’s apartment – anything to get them out of the way of the water.
Then call the leasing office, landlord, or whoever you can contact in management. Now is the time to call the emergency number you saved earlier.
While they’re on their way, try to get things under control. Try to seal the leak if you can reach it and have the materials. Use plastic bins or any other containers you have to try to contain the water.
After the flood
Even though you now have the issue fixed, the stress doesn’t end here. Now you have to try and pick up the pieces, get things fixed, and go back to life as normal. Since a lot of this involves local laws, insurance, and details specific to one lease or another, there can be a lot of variation. That said, these are the things you should know.
The building itself normally falls under the landlord’s insurance. The actual structure and anything that they provided with the unit, such as carpet and appliances, is covered by that. You are responsible for your personal property, which is where your renter’s insurance comes in. If flooding damage is covered, it should take care of the damage to your things.
There are exceptions to this, however. If the flooding was caused by issues you informed the landlord of but they didn’t fix, they’ll generally be responsible for all of the damages. The opposite holds for if something you did directly caused the flooding, at which point you might be responsible for all damage, including damage to the building. As always, consult with a lawyer if there’s conflict in this type of situation.
If the apartment is damaged so badly that it’s unlivable, you may be able to terminate the lease without penalty. Though it’s not required by law, you can often get the landlord to change you to another, equivalent unit in the same building, either permanently or just until your original apartment is fixed. You may also be able to withhold rent until the unit has been repaired, though this can be a risky move and the legal situation varies greatly. As always, check local laws and consult with a lawyer before doing something like that.
No one likes thinking about disasters like flooding, but with a little preparation and knowledge beforehand, you can be much better prepared and able to handle all the stressful situations that come with it.
Read more about keeping your apartment safe:
- Renters Insurance: What You Need to Know
- 8 Tips to Prevent a Kitchen Fire
- Discover the Basics of Renters Insurance