Rain’s effects on renters?

At this point everyone knows the rain has been pretty destructive to all aspects of life in Los Angeles but a discussion came up yesterday and I thought I’d put it to everyone here to see what we come up with. Say a person lives in an apartment building that has been leaking – to the effect that it’s actually caused some water damage to the walls, the paint, the carpet, the floors, whatever. Is it the renters job to fix this or the land lords? What if nothing is fixed and they try to move a few months down the line, can the land lord charge them for the damage that was done from the leaks that they might not have even known about? What if they notified the land lord before the rain of leaks that were never fixed? What if it’s a commercial rental rather than residential? Basically, who’s responsibility is it to make the sure building doesn’t leak, and who has to cover the costs if it does?

21 Replies to “Rain’s effects on renters?”

  1. …and as property owners they’re insured against naturally occuring damage like this.

    in fact, as a home owner with a flooded basement and a destroyed furnace, i was just saying i wish we were renters!

  2. That’s what we were thinking, but I guess we were just wondering if 6 months from now some landlords will try to hold security deposits from renters claiming water damage.

  3. as long as you let your landlord know about the damage, you should be in the clear. we all know you can’t force landlords to do much of anything, but since this entails their property, it’s up to them to fix it.

    however, landlords are, to my knowledge, not responsible for damage to your property. so if the leak/flood damages your computer, tv, collection of vintage playboy magazines, that’s your problem. you can get renters insurance, although since i’m a cheap bastard, i don’t know much about it.

    and hey! someone’s been using my name!

  4. Sean, For sure some unscrupulous owners might try to pin the cause of water damage on their renters, but it would be tough to make it stick รณ especially if the renters are wise and document everything.

  5. it’s the landlords responsibility for sure. MOREOVER, if you can’t live in the place because it’s so wet, your landlord is obligated to pay for you to stay in a motel (as long as the price doesn’t exceed your rent.) they are also obligated to fix it (at least do a temporary patch as soon as possible.) you shouldn’t have to wait weeks — there is such a thing as emergency roof repair and you can demand it. the landlord, i believe is NOT required to reimburse you for any damage to your own property (furniture, etc.) as long as they are making a good faith effort to repair the leak as soon as possible.

  6. great question! i have been wondering the same thing. i live in a rent controlled apt in silver lake, whose new landlord is pulling out all the stops to try to get rid me since my new neighbors pay twice as much as i. from the last rains i have some cracks and water spots, but honestly, i don’t complain unless it’s horrible — i don’t want the landlord to even remember i’m there, lest he’ll get in there and find x thousands of dollars of “needed repairs” that he can use in order to kick me out (and which he did to another neighbor). ugh.

  7. I actually have a pretty good relationship with my landlord. He’s a little over involved in our lives (he’ll call everyone in the building if there’s a lot of recycling in the trash instead of its own bin), but he’s very good about handling things like leaky windows. When we called him about some water damage to the floor, he made it very clear that it’s his responsibility to take care of any rain damage to the building, carpets, etc.

    A word of advice that he gave me: take pictures of all the rooms before moving in. He does, of course, and it has saved him a lot of heartache.

  8. FEMA will pay if you have to move, and they’ll also pay if you must replace a damaged bed or computer (only if you’re a student of if it’s for work). Call ’em up. Your landlord usually has insurance that will pay for stuctural damage. Also, don’t let your landlord off the hook if you’ve lost property due to their negligence, esp. if you warned them about leaks, etc. If they knew about the problems, and let things slide, their insurance will pay for your stuff. But only if you notified them about problems and nothing happened. Did you save your letters?
    This is why rent-control is ultimately bad for renters–owners do nothing until there’s a disaster. If they want to charge fair market value, they have to keep the place in shape.
    And then, get renter’s insurance.

  9. Sean is referring to a commercial lease situation which, we’ve discovered, can be quite different than a residential lease. Combine the asshole landlord factor and you’ve got some fun! And, just in case they read this, this is not in reference to our residential landlord who is, in fact, a total dear.

  10. If you have a recalcitrant (sp) landlord, call the housing department at the city. They’ll send out an inspector and order the landlord to fix if necessary

  11. commercial real estate leases are an entirely different animal. you have no rights! after listening to my old boss rant and rave i’m guessing they don’t have to do shit for ya. i’m also guessing that they can’t hold you responsible for leaks since you only occupy a small portion of the building and leaks usually occur somehwere far away from where the water actually pools. since your landlord is a documented a**hole i’d start taking pictures and sending registered letters to cover your ass

  12. As a residential and commercial landlord myself, I can tell you that any leaks are my responsibility. Period!!! A landlord “CANNOT” back charge you for water damage, especially if you’ve documented it. If you’re in an apartment building that is more than four units, that is commercial property. It is still the landlords responsibility. However, if you are in a lease of commercial property for business purposes, you need to take a look at your lease.

    In a “gross lease”, landlord pays all expenses of ownership: viz a viz taxes, insurance, assessments, repairs. This is the typical apartment type lease. In a “net lease”, in addition to paying rent, the tenant pays part or all of the property charges such as taxes, insurance, repairs, etc. In a “triple net lease” the tenant pays not only the rent, but “all operating and other expenses”. Hope this provides you with some answers.

    P.S. Koga, I love you maaaaan!!!()#$)(Q

  13. Follow-up here, FEMA will “NOT” pay you a cent. Anyone who says that FEMA will pay money because of water damage is on crack. The only time FEMA money comes into play is if an area has been declared FEMA eligible. This is what renters insurance is for. It’s the renters responsibility to obtain it. I require all my residential and multi-residental lessees to obtain it and show proof before before submitting an application let alone move-in. Any damage to your property should be coverable by the owners insurance policy, especially if you have it documented that you’ve complained about the leaks and/or existing damage.

  14. Uh, Bobby–LA is a disaster area. Where have you been? From the website:

    PASADENA, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that Los Angeles and Ventura County residents and business owners who suffered damages and losses as a result of the severe storms, flooding, debris flows and mudslides which occurred from December 27, 2004 through January 11, 2005 may be eligible for disaster assistance.

    People in those counties affected by the disaster may call and register with FEMA, toll-free, at 1-800-621-FEMA (621-3362). The number for the hearing or speech impaired is 1-800-462-7585, TTY. Operators are available from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. daily.

    “Registering with FEMA for disaster assistance takes one phone call,” said FEMA’s David Fukutomi, federal coordinating officer. “Even if they have insurance, people should register with FEMA because they may be underinsured for losses and expenses. We don’t want anyone that was impacted by the disaster to miss getting the help for which they are eligible.”

    Only homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained losses directly attributable to weather events from December 27, 2004 through January 11, 2005 are eligible for federal and state assistance.

    “Homeowners and renters in Los Angeles and Ventura counties affected by the disaster may be eligible for grants to pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses,” said Henry Renteria, OES Director and State Coordinating Officer. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries. Disaster aid varies on a case-by-case basis.

    OES coordinates overall state agency response to major disasters in support of local government. The office is responsible for ensuring California’s readiness to respond to and recover from natural, manmade and war-caused emergencies and for assisting local governments in their emergency preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery efforts.

    SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts, and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover uninsured and uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

    FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

    Disaster recovery assistance is available to any individual without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, economic status, or disability. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against in receiving disaster assistance, you may contact one of FEMA’s Equal Rights Officers (EROs) at 1-800-525-0321, or contact your State Office of Equal Rights

  15. FEMA will not pay if you have a renters insurance policy in effect that covers personal property damage. FEMA has become very strict when it comes to personal property damage. They will investigate the situation that brought about the claim. When applying for FEMA money, you will have to meet with a FEMA inspector. The process is much more stringent these days. This came about due to the widespread abuse that occured during the quake in ’94

  16. Bobby–The nice FEMA came to my neighbor’s rental guest-house (I was there), walked around, took notes on this computer-like thing, last week. Today, my darling neighbor got a check in the mail. True, she didn’t have renter’s insurance, but now she can buy a bed. It wasn’t stressful, and she’s in her 70s.

  17. any comments on mold and mildew regarding damaged walls and carpets? i’ve been on my land lord since January and still have yet to see the old stuff pulled out.

  18. I live in an apartment complex witch have 8 aparments together four on the second floor and four on the first floor.There is one basement that is everyones laundry my question is in that basement every person has a storage area where they can store their belongins resently the smell on the halls make me along with another tenant check the basement to our surprise it was a leak on the plumbing in the basement we had a big lost myself along with the other tenants because our storage rooms where right beneath the leak we immediatedly call the management they came and repair it but didn’t told us anything about our lost witch was not under our control and we prevented the other tenants on getting their stuff ruin. I believe there got to be a law for people that they should be responsable for the lost that happen to their stuff especially when people pay the rent up to date and keep their apartments in excellent condition is just not fair that they don’t want to pay for our losses and didn’t even send someone to inspect our stuff in the condition that they where left we learn not to put our stuff in that basement and the next leak not to communicate it to them because they need to take responsabilities for their actions.

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