At one point or another most of us have had to deal with a leaking tap, or a burst pipe, that has caused a few minor hassles. But what about when your home floods big-time and it's a rental property? Are you forced to cover the cost of clean-up? Is it up to you to pay for temporary accommodation? Or is it the role of your landlord to cover everything, including ensuring that other housing options are available until matters are rectified? Let's see.
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Ensuring you are covered
A number of factors come into play when determining if your landlord is obliged to provide extra accommodation in the event your property - whether house or flat - has been flooded. Other issues come into play, too. Do you have renter's insurance? If not, you should! Don't be taken in by cheap policies that just cover the costs of repairs to burst pipes. Instead, make sure the policy includes coverage for the costs of clean-up and flood-damage. Landlords are rarely contractually-bound to cover items like furniture, particularly if they are your property, rather than provided by the landlord.
Flooding: who is to blame?
Many people make the mistake of failing to carefully read the agreement between landlord and tenant. Some agreements specifically state the landlord is only responsible for the upkeep of the building's exterior and certain, specified internal items. And, what if the cause of the flood is the person who lives directly next door or above? Here's where things can get tricky. Yes, the landlord is obligated to ensure the property is safe and secure. But, if the fault of the flood lies with a neighbouring tenant, then a landlord may argue it's that person on whom the responsibility falls. Cue potentially lots of legal red-tape.
An unsafe environment
Paramount to determining if your landlord has a requirement to rehouse you in the aftermath of a flood is whether or not the property is now structurally unsafe. Your landlord should have building insurance - some policies for which do include safeguards for the tenant, including rehousing. If the policy in question does not contain such a provision, however, then contact your local council's environmental health staff. They will pay a visit to the property and determine if it is safe and sound or deemed uninhabitable, for safety reasons, while the clean up takes place. If a determination is made in your favour, then your landlord will almost certainly have to relocate you.
Furniture and accommodation
Even if your landlord agrees, or is forced by law, to rehouse you, it's important to note that he or she is not always legally bound to provide you with furnished accommodation. Indeed, if the original property was unfurnished when you moved in, and the settee, television and bed you brought with you are now badly damaged or destroyed, it's you, and you alone, who will have to find replacement items for your new place. That's an important thing to remember: rehousing in the event of a flood, even temporarily, may mean moving into an empty home. So, always tread carefully when renting. And read the fine print!
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