Who's Responsible for Water Damage: Tenants or Landlords?
Water damage can occur without warning, and it can be costly to fix. But who exactly is responsible for the damages? Is it the landlord or the tenant? This is what today’s blog will try to answer.
Signs of Water Damage
Water damage is every landlord’s worst nightmare. Even a tiny leak or a plumbing problem can lead to serious and costly damages. This event is especially true if the problem is left unattended for quite some time.
Some signs of water damage are easier to spot than others. They include:
- Puddles or pooling water
Have you noticed an unusual puddle somewhere in your rental property? If so, get it fixed immediately. Even when it is just a minor problem, it is unlikely to reoccur. If it comes back, it may be an indicator of a leakage or seepage problem.
Is your home feeling unusually cold? If so, your walls are likely damp. Damp walls draw out heat from the walls leaving your home difficult to heat.
This is also another common sign of water damage. Mold and water do not go hand in hand—one cannot exist without the other. If you spot a mold growing anywhere in the property, it means there is unwanted moisture somewhere in the property.
- Discolored walls
Discoloration is commonly a sign of overflowing gutters. Inspect them as soon as possible.
Spotting any of these signs can be a sign of trouble. Call your landlord as soon as you can.
When does your landlord become responsible for water damage?
Your landlord ensures you live in a safe and habitable environment. This includes ensuring your rental unit is free from any plumbing problems, says Uptown Dallas Properties.
That being said, it also befalls on you to prevent further damages. For example, a supposed serious plumbing leak occurs. Your landlord makes sure you live in a habitable environment.
In the same regard, as a tenant, it is your responsibility to notify your landlord of any kind of problem that threatens your safety. This can help stop problems from getting worse that will eventually cause serious damage to your home.
If you fail to notify your landlord quickly enough, the liability for damage caused to your personal property may be yours to take.
When does a tenant become responsible for water damage?
You may also become responsible for water damage especially if the damage occurs as a result of negligence or carelessness. An example would be if you are out of town and leave the property under the care of a friend.
For whatever reason, your friend forgets to shut off the bathroom faucet and water flows all over the floor. By the time the problem is discovered, the damage has already taken place, and everything has been soaked.
In such a case, who do you think will assume the responsibility? It is definitely going to be yours to take. Your friend’s carelessness or negligence will have nothing to do with your landlord.
Another common sign of water damage is overflowing toilets. In this case, the problem must first be established. Is it because of poorly maintained plumbing pipes or is it a result of diapers and facial tissues being flushed down the toilet?
Of course, if the problem is as a result of misuse by the tenant, then the responsibility lies solely with the tenant. However, if it’s because of poor maintenance, then the responsibility becomes your landlord’s.
Can renter’s insurance help?
A renter’s insurance covers your personal property and will normally replace items if they get damaged or stolen. It covers personal items like furniture, electronics, small appliances like toasters, microwaves, coffee pots, and all other belongings.
Nowadays, more and more landlords require insurance as a pre-leasing requirement. For this reason, will a renter’s insurance help? Yes, it can. It is a beneficial backup strategy in the event of property damage as a result of negligence on your part.
Can you break the lease agreement?
Yes, you can. Your landlord is responsible for providing safe and habitable living conditions, at least as per the Implied Warranty of Habitability law. If your landlord ignores your requests to fix, say, a plumbing issue, then you may be able to break your lease.
Can you withhold rent from your landlord?
It may be possible. However, be sure to check what your local laws say first. Some states allow tenants to withhold rent until the landlord acts on a repair problem, while others don’t.
Back to the original question: who’s responsible for water damage? Is it you or your landlord? Clearly, there is no direct answer here. It just depends on the circumstances that brought about the problem in the first place.