Rental Property Water Damage who is Responsible Landlord or Tenant?
Determining who is responsible for the water damage in a rental property can be tricky. While the tenant lives in the property, the landlord is still the rightful owner of the home. So, in the event of a water damage in a rental property, who is responsible for the damages? We find out the answers on the article below. We enlist the rights and responsibilities of each party as well in order to assist you further.
LANDLORD: RESPONSIBILITIES AND RIGHTS
In the section below, we discuss the important things that must be kept in mind by the landlord. We list down some of the responsibilities of the landlord in case of water damage in the rental property. In addition to this, we also list down the rights of the landlord in the event of a water damage in the property.
The Responsibilities of the Landlord during a Water Damage
Cost of Repair of the Damages in the Property unless the damage is caused by the Tenant
In general, the burden of the cost for repair lies on the shoulder of the landlord. When the landlord does not resolve the issue, the tenant has the right to withhold the rent or move out of the premises. Since the landlord is required to ensure that the unit is suitable for the living condition of the tenant, the landlord is responsible to make the repairs.
However, this law is not meant to be abused by the tenant. When the damage has been caused by the tenant, the landlord has the right to charge the cost of repair to the tenant. They can deduct the cost against the security deposit. For example, if the washing machine of the tenant leaks and it causes damage to the property, the tenant can be charged for the damage on top of the repair for the property.
As a general rule, the landlord is responsible for the upkeep of the plumbing and pipes. This is because they are part of their property. Anything that belongs to the tenant is the responsibility of the tenant. When the tenant has noticed that the plumbing or pipelines are prone to damage, the tenant should inform the landlord.
Once the tenant has notified the landlord of the damage on the property, the landlord must act upon this immediately. This is part of the tenant’s right to have a unit that is suitable for living. It is important to set a reasonable time for the landlord to act upon the damage.
Report the Damage to the Corresponding Insurance Company
The landlord bears the responsibility of reporting the damage to the insurance company. They are also responsible for the processing of the insurance claim. However, the coverage of the insurance is only limited to what the landlord owns. The tenant is responsible for the insurance of their own properties.
Implied Warranty of Habitability
Each state has different laws governing the landlord-tenant relationship. Both parties are equally responsible to know about the pre-existing law of their state. However, there is a rule that is applicable to all landlord-tenant relationship. This is the implied warranty of habitability.
It simply states that the landlord must ensure that the home is suitable for living. In the event that the unit is not sanitary to live in and it is not suitable for one’s health, the tenant has the right to abandon the property.
Before the turnover of the unit to the tenant, it is important that the landlord has checked the plumbing and drainage. As we have stated in one of our articles, “It is also important to check the drainages and prevent clogging since it can cause flooding. The clogged drainage can also cause more water retention on the surface and it can even cause the water to come inside the home. You should also check where the drained water is leading to, as it can be leading directly to your home.”
Find out more about the money and time-saving tips to prevent water damage in this article. (https://www.waterdamagemiami.com/tips-saving-money-water-damage-restoration)
The Rights of the Landlord during a Water Damage
The Right to Claim the Cost of Repair when Damage is caused by the Tenant
We have discussed that the landlord bears the responsibility for the repair on the property. However, there are cases where the tenant can be held responsible for the cost of repair. There are times when the tenant is responsible for the damage.
For example, if during the winter the pipes have frozen and burst due to the temperature set by the tenant, the landlord could claim that it the cause of the water damage is the tenant’s negligence. If the water damage is caused by the appliance owned by the tenant, it is the tenant’s responsibility to pay for the damages and the repair.
The Right to Knowing the Damage upon Discovery
In most cases, the landlord does not live in the unit with the tenant.
If the tenant wants the landlord to act upon the repair for the potential damage, it is important that the tenant raises the issue to the landlord.
Once the tenant has noticed the potential cause of water damage on the property, they must promptly notify the landlord. This provides the landlord with ample time to take care of the repairs on the property.
TENANT: RESPONSIBILITIES AND RIGHTS
As part of our information campaign, we will be discussing the important things that the tenant should remember when there is water damage in a rental property. Here are some of the main rights and responsibilities of the tenant in case of water damage in a rental property.
The Responsibilities of the Tenant during a Water Damage
Understand the terms of the Contract, the governing laws of the state, and the Insurance Policy for the rental property
Different strokes for different folks.
Each contract has different terms and conditions. The tenant is responsible for understanding these contracts. They can also ask for an advice from a legal professional if the contract is binding in their state. Moreover, once the damage has been done and it explicitly states that the landlord is free from the responsibility, it would be harder for the tenant to contest the terms of a signed contract. After all, ignorance of the law excuses no one.
While there are rules governing the landlord and tenant relationship for each state, the terms of the contract can be done to hugely favor the landlord. In this case, it is important that the tenant reads the contract from top to bottom to find out if there are any clauses that they are acceptable for them. This will save them from having to deal with terms that are unfavorable for them.
They also have to understand the insurance policy related to the property. This will allow them to understand the coverage of the policy. It will help them plan out their renter’s insurance to ensure maximum coverage and protection of their items.
Get Renter’s Insurance
As we have stated, the insurance policy held by the landlord covers the property. The belonging of the tenant is the responsibility of the tenant. In order to protect his/her belonging, they must get an insurance coverage that protects their valuables. Getting a renter’s insurance is the sole responsibility of the renter.
Keep the Unit Sanitary
The tenant lives in the rental property.
If the unit is handed to him/her in a livable state, it is their duty to maintain it in that state. This is, of course, unless the damage may be rooted from the poor maintenance and upkeep of the property before the unit has been turned over to them.
Renting a property in itself is a responsibility. You are living in a place that is not under your legal ownership. This is why it is important to take care of the property while you are residing in this space. As we have discussed this, we also raise the importance that the tenant knows the common reason for water damage. Moreover, it is also vital that they know how to prevent this from occurring. Any damage caused by the negligence of the tenant holds them liable for the cost of repair.
If the tenants notice that the plumbing or pipe is beginning to leak, they must be proactive enough to move the items close to it to prevent damages. Once they have raised the issue to the landlord, it is their responsibility to protect items that are exposed to danger.
Report the Problem
Once the tenant becomes aware of anything that needs repair around their home, they must immediately report it to the landlord to give the landlord plenty of time to fix the issue. The sooner that the problem is reported, the less damage it can cause. As a result, it brings about less hassle for both parties.
The Rights of the Tenant during a Water Damage
The Implied Right to Habitability
As the landlord holds the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant holds the implied right to a habitable property to live in. The tenant holds the right to have a home that is safe and sanitary. It requires them to have a home with a suitable living condition. It must be safe for the health of those that reside in the rental property.
Immediate Action and Solution of the Problem by the Landlord
Once the tenant has filed a complaint on the damage that needs repairing, the landlord is expected to immediately act upon the issue. If the problem raises health and safety concerns, the landlord may also be legally required to provide a temporary lodging for the tenant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the buyer withhold rent?
It depends on the rules of the state.
There are states that allow the tenant to withhold their rent if the landlord has refused to act upon the damage. However, in most cases, the buyer would need to continue paying the rent as long as they live in the rental property.
Can the buyer abandon the rental property?
In general, the answer is YES. This is in the event that the property is not in a state that is suitable for habitability. No matter where the rental property is located, the tenant is protected by the implied right of habitability.
So, who is really responsible for the repairs on the property in the event of a water damage on a rental property?
It is the landlord’s responsibility to make the necessary repairs once the tenant has informed them of the state of the unit. However, there is an exception to this case. If the tenant has been proven to have caused the damage, the landlord will be given the right to reimburse the cost for the repair.
Marcia Stewart has briefly discussed the governing laws in Florida regarding the implied warranty of habitability. She has stated that “You are legally required to keep rental premises livable in Florida, under a legal doctrine called the “implied warranty of habitability.” If you don’t take care of important repairs, such as a broken heater, tenants in Florida may have several options, including the right to withhold rent.”
Furthermore, she states that in Florida, “…landlords must provide 12 hours’ notice before entering rental property—for example, to make repairs or show the property to prospective tenants. To avoid problems, include a lease or rental agreement clause that complies with the law and lets the tenant know your right of entry; also, keep written records of your requests to enter rental units.” (https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/renters-rights-book/chapter7-2.html)
We hope that this has cleared up any confusion that you may have regarding the issue. On the other hand, it is important to note that each state has different laws governing them. However, the implied warranty for habitability seems to be the standard in all states.
Finally, if there is water damage in a rental property, you can contact Water Damage Miami to help solve the issue at an affordable price. You can call the emergency hotline at (746) 540-4735 to get an immediate response to all your concerns.