Water damage is one of the worst things you’d ever have to deal with as a landlord. Not only is there a chance that your property will become uninhabitable, but you’ll also have to pay for repairs, which can cost anywhere between $3.75 to $7 per square footage. Unfortunately, floods aren’t a rare occurrence in South Florida – in fact, Florida Rescue says that flooding is one of the state’s most frequent hazards. If you own a rental property in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, or any other place in the South of the sunshine state, you have to prepare yourself for the fact that you may have to deal with post-flood repairs at some point. To help you be prepared, we’ve put together a few tips on landlord responsibility for flood damage. Knowing what to do will help you get your property “rent-ready” again, and in turn, keep making money.
Do Tenants Have to Vacate the Property After a Flood?
It depends on what the local law says, however, in most cases, tenants can remain on the property if the damage isn’t too severe. If they choose to stay, then can ask their landlord to suspend rent payments or to collect only part of the rent until repairs are complete. They can also choose to move out without incurring any penalties.
In most cases, the landlord will pay for the tenant’s temporary accommodation while they repair the property. If the landlord has a vacant property, the tenant can choose to relocate there, but they can’t be forced to sign a lease that’s longer than their original lease.
If the property is too unsafe to live in, the landlord needs to serve the tenant a notice that terminates the rental contract. If the tenant refuses to vacate (e.g. they believe that the property shouldn’t be considered uninhabitable), the landlord can contact local authorities.
Laws vary, so it’s best to consult a local property management company in Fort Lauderdale. They can help you choose the best course of action.
Who Is Responsible for Repairs After a Flood?
Landlords are responsible for property repairs after a flood, but they are not responsible for the tenant’s personal property. For instance, the landlord will cover the cost to repair the floors, drywall, etc. but the tenant can’t get them to pay for their damaged TV, refrigerator, and more. Their option is to file for an insurance claim themselves – that is if they have renter’s insurance.
It should be noted that if the landlord can show that the flooding was caused by the tenant’s negligence, the tenant will have to be liable. An example of this is when a tenant flushes things that you shouldn’t flush in a toilet, causing it to overflow.
On the flip side, if the tenant can prove that it was the property owner’s fault (e.g. the landlord failed to repair the pipes after the tenant reported it), the landlord may be obligated to pay for the tenant’s personal belongings.
Again, laws vary, so if you aren’t sure what to do, consider consulting a property management firm in Fort Lauderdale, FL. That way, you and your tenants can stop pointing fingers at each other.
Landlord Responsibility for Flood Damage Apartment
Floods are a common occurrence in South Florida, so it’s best to be prepared. Here’s the landlord responsibility for flood damage in your rental, whether due to natural disasters, flash floods due to rain, indoor leaks, or overflowing toilets and sinks.
#1 Assess the Damage
Pay your property a visit once local authorities say it’s safe to do so. That way, you can get an idea of what kind of damage has been done, and decide what to do about your tenants. Remember to turn off the breaker box the moment you get there so no one gets electrocuted.
As you walk through the property, make sure to take lots of pictures to show how deep the floodwater was. You’ll have to provide “proof” when you file a claim with your insurance company, so try to show the property’s condition clearly.
Pro Tip: You can ask your tenants to take pictures, but it would be best to do it yourself so as not to put your tenants at risk. It also helps to partner with a Fort Lauderdale property management company if you live far from your rental.
#2 File an Insurance Claim
Don’t waste a single second, as you won’t be the only one dealing with water damage. File an insurance claim with your company ASAP to give them enough time to go through everything. There’s going to be a long list, so you ask if you can get an Advance Payment so you can start repairs.
#3 Decide if Your Tenants Can Stay
If the property can still be rented out but only needs repairs, you can choose to move your tenants out temporarily (and cover their relocation costs) or conduct repairs while they’re on the property. Ultimately, it’s up to you, but keep in mind that doing the work with tenants on the property may put them at risk.
#4 Plan for Repairs
Choose only experienced contractors. If you’ve hired a property management firm in Fort Lauderdale, FL, they’ll have their own network of vetted vendors. That means you won’t have to waste your time vetting vendors yourself.
At this stage, you could also consider working with a professional cleaning service provider to help throw out flood-damaged items (except for your tenant’s things) that may pose a health risk.
#5 Document Repairs
Document the repairs – that way, in case your tenant claims that you didn’t repair the property after the flood, you’ll have the files to prove otherwise.
Property Management in Fort Lauderdale FL
It’s worth mentioning that the steps outlined above are a condensed version of what you might have to go through. Dealing with floods can be a real ordeal, as what you will need to do will depend on your situation and the extent of the damage. With that said, it can benefit you to partner with the experts.
At Luxury Property Care, not only will we help your tenants prepare for the flood, but we’ll also stay by your side as you repair and restore your property. You’ll never be alone as you deal with the headaches that come after the flood. Call (561) 944 – 2992 or fill out our contact form to learn more about how we can help you in times of disaster.