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Who’s Responsible for Water Damage: Tenants or Landlords?

Water damage may result in serious expenses. After the living quarters face a water intrusion, it’s likely that damaged furniture, drywall, and carpets are left behind. The prices add up when replacing these items.

In case of your own home, dealing with the water damage will take a chunk out of your household budget. But when there’s water damage in a rental property, intense disputes may follow.

That’s because tenants and landlords often can’t agree on who is responsible for water damage. Sometimes these heated discussions end up in court. However, it’s possible to prevent legal escalation when both sides know their rights and responsibilities, explains Avalon Property Management.

In this article, we’ll go over the major principles of dealing with water damage in a rental home. You’ll find it easier to resolve any conflicts after reading this practical guide.

When are landlords responsible for water damage?

Landlords are responsible for water damage when it results from inadequate maintenance. The reason lies in the requirement for landlords to provide a habitable dwelling. They can achieve this objective by conducting necessary repairs and maintenance.

Here is a practical example. When property damage results from burst pipes, it’s possible that the landlord should be held accountable for the associated expenses. The landlord should have repaired or replaced the pipes before the situation would come to an actual emergency.

When are tenants responsible for water damage?

Tenants are always responsible for negligence, misuse, and careless behavior. In such cases, there isn’t anything to discuss as the tenant holds full accountability for subsequent costs.

A practical example, that isn’t a rare occurrence at all, is when the tenant forgets to shut off the bathtub faucet. This careless behavior could easily lead to major flooding in the rental property.

Sometimes tenants are held responsible for a behavior pattern that spans out over a longer period of time. When a tenant regularly flushes sanitary pads, the accumulated waste will create a blockage. At some point, major water damage is likely to conclude this behavior.

How to sort out water damage disputes?

The responsibilities following any water damage aren’t always clear-cut. For instance, tenants are expected to act by reducing the damages resulting from an active water emergency. The tenant could move personal property and other items away from the water.

Tenants have to immediately let their landlord know about the water emergency. Should it turn out that the renter didn’t take proactive steps during the emergency, the reimbursement for personal property damage could be limited.

Fortunately, there are practical actions that can be done to avoid costly disputes. These are the main suggestions:

Obligatory renter’s insurance. The landlord may require his tenants to have valid renter’s insurance. This requirement isn’t legal in all states. That means you should always check your local regulations as a landlord before adding this clause to your rental agreement.

Draft detailed agreements. Your rental agreement should cover the main aspects related to water emergencies and ensuing damages. When the accountability has been effectively mapped out in the contract, it’s much less likely that any disputes would occur between the signed parties.

Focus on what’s important. Sometimes landlords and tenants get stuck by disputing the type of water emergency. They erroneously believe that this affects the domain of responsibility.

However, the important factor is what exactly caused the emergency in the first place. This cause can be linked to the landlord’s or tenant’s accountability.

What are the main signs of water damage?

On a final note, people think spotting signs of water damage is easier than it really is. The damaged areas may be completely out of sight. And it’s possible that there are subtle clues instead of huge swaths of moist drywall.

Here is a little guide covering the major signs of water damage in your rental property:

Discoloration. When the surfaces in your rental unit acquire water damage over time, it’s entirely possible that you’ll only be able to spot a slow onset of discoloration. Usually, the affected areas include walls and ceilings.

The damaged areas turn brown because the paint surfactants start creating new compounds after reacting with water.

Changes in texture. Sometimes all that you can spot are subtle changes in your property’s surface textures. As time passes, these signs become less subtle. Watch out for unexplained cracks, bubbles, or warps appearing in the rental unit.

A drop in temperature

Does it get colder than usual with the same outdoor conditions? Water damage is a likely explanation. When your walls turn damp, the accumulated water removes the indoor heat. Heating systems need to start using more power in order to maintain the same ambient temperature.

Bad odor

Water damage is often accompanied by a foul odor. When your water emergency hasn’t been properly taken care of, ensuing mold growth is a realistic outcome. The thriving mold colonies emit a distinct smell that reminds people of damp basements.

The content on this page is for general information only and does not accurately reflect the offering and process of Integrity Restoration & Remodeling, Inc. For more information on our services, feel free to contact us at 770-966-9987 or by submitting a form here.