Water damage can have devastating consequences on your apartment. At worst, it will make your it unlivable and permanently ruin whatever property you have inside. Even seemingly minor flooding can have devastating long-term consequences.
Wet surfaces are fertile environments for mold, which can further damage the apartment and create substantial health hazards. Your landlord must repair the damage, but only up to a point. There is always a possibility that your landlord either does not complete the repairs promptly, or that he refuses to make them at all. That is why it is important to know your rights as a tenant in the event of water damage.
Tenant Rights and State Laws
While the basic principles behind tenant rights are the same everywhere in United States, details vary depending on the state. For more information, consult your local housing authority or a tenants rights organizations.
If your apartment suffers water damage, your landlord can only evict you if your apartment has been totally destroyed. The only exception to this rule is if your lease specifically states that your landlord has a right to evict you if the damage is partial. It should also be noted that if you have an oral month-to-month lease, your landlord has to cancel your lease by giving you 10 days notice before the end of the rental month.
Rental Payments After Flooding
If you have to leave an apartment do to severe water damage, you do not owe your landlord rent for that month. You will not have to pay rent until your apartment is completely repaired.
You have a right to cancel your lease if the apartment is either partially or totally destroyed. In the former case, the damage has to be extensive enough to require complex, extensive repairs. If the damage amounts to something smaller, you do not have the right to cancel the lease.
If you are going to exercise this right, be prepared to make your case before the court. Collect evidence and consult a lawyer,
Water Damage Related Repairs
Assuming you didn't cause the water damage yourself, your landlord is lawfully required to fix the damage to the apartment itself at his expense. That includes the rooms, doors, walls, balconies, and utilities. The landlord is not required to pay for repairs of furniture or personal belongings. The only exception to this rule is if you can prove that the water damage was caused by landlord's negligence.
Delays in Required Repairs
If your landlord does not make repairs to the apartment building in a timely manner, leaving it unfit to live in, you have a right to cancel the lease. You should be prepared to prove that the damage was substantial enough to warrant the cancellation. Alternatively, you have a right to make the repairs yourself and deduct the repair-related costs from your monthly rental payments.
Those deductions should be reasonable. You do not have a right to stop paying rent altogether while you make repairs.
Knowing your rights as a tenant for your water damaged apartment is crucial. Now you have the know how to help protect yourself in this situation.