Rental home flooding can be just as alarming and damaging as significant water damage in a property you own. However, while water damage and mold issues can affect renters and homeowners alike—who's responsible and how the incident is handled may differ. In addition, while state laws are broadly similar with regard to rental home flooding, some states may apply different regulations.
If rental home flooding occurs, certain common-sense steps should be taken by the tenant:
- If you see damage occurring—or warning signs of potential damage, such as a leaky pipe that may rupture—immediately inform the onsite manager (if there is one) or contact the property owner directly.
- Stop the source of water immediately if you can. In the case of a rental house, knowing the location of the main water shutoff valve and how to operate it is good common-sense knowledge.
Responsibilities of the Property Owner
- In all states, a landlord is responsible to maintain a safe and habitable rental space for tenants. This includes promptly addressing water-related issues such as leaky plumbing, roof leaks, groundwater seepage, and malfunctioning or defective home appliances.
- Once any incident of rental home flooding (or a condition likely to trigger flooding) is reported to the property owner, the cost of repair of any resultant damage is the responsibility of the owner.
Responsibility of the Tenant
- If rental home flooding is caused by the tenant's abuse or misuse of plumbing or appliances, the tenant could be charged for repairs to the resultant damage. An example would be flushing inappropriate items down a toilet and causing a damaging overflow.
- If an appliance belonging to the tenant and not provided by the property owner—for example, a washing machine—malfunctions and floods some or part of the premises, the tenant may be liable for costs for repair of the damage.
Prevention Is Preferable
Property owners should conduct regular inspections to verify the status of plumbing as well as look for signs of structural problems like roof leaks. Also, tenants should be reminded to promptly report any issues that might result in rental home flooding to the manager or property owner.
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