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Apartment Flooding: What to Do & How to Handle the Situation

April 29, 2020

An apartment flood is a renter’s worst nightmare. Water damages everything from personal belongings to flooring. Flooded apartments also require quick action to mitigate the damage and restore your apartment. 

Despite the urgency of the situation, staying calm and working through a to-do list is possible with a plan in place. Here’s what to do next. 

1. Identify the Source of the Flooding

Whether its leaking pipes, overflowing sinks or toilets, or flooding from an apartment above you, the first step is finding out where the water is coming from. It may be possible to turn off the water source from a valve by the toilet that may be causing the issue. You can also ask your upstairs neighbor with a leak pouring through the ceiling if they need help finding theirs. 

If your apartment flooded from a hurricane or other disaster, make sure to get out of your apartment and into a safe space immediately. Salvage what you can, including necessary paperwork and essentials like your computer and evacuate the apartment. You can navigate the next steps once you and your roommates or loved ones are out of harm’s way.

2. Talk to Your Landlord

You want to protect your stuff, and your landlord wants to protect their property. Rally your landlord’s support to work together and jump into action quickly. The landlord will likely call in the help of maintenance workers to slow down the flooding. 

As long as the flooding isn’t severe and you need to evacuate immediately, call your landlord or property manager while looking for the source of the flooding or looking for a shut-off valve.

3. Assess and Document the Damage

As long as your apartment is safe to be in, spend some time documenting the damages. Take plenty of photos with the date, time, and notes on the damage. That’ll come in handy when talking to your landlord and renter’s insurance provider. 

Your landlord will probably also ask for any documentation to hand over to their own insurance company. This can help speed along the repair and restoration process.

4. Notify Your Neighbors

Your neighbors should be notified about your flooded apartment, especially if you live above somebody. If your apartment is dealing with some flooding, chances are, it’ll be leaking into the neighbor's apartment. And if it’s not, the neighbor can monitor for any slow leaks or mold that may appear in the ceiling due to the damage. 

5. Figure out Next Steps for Repairs

Once the apartment flood has been contained, talk to the landlord about how maintenance and repairs will work. Ask about the maintenance schedule, access requirements to the apartment, and what to expect. 

You should also make notes of the repairs if you’re still living in the apartment. Flag any issues to the landlord like ongoing leaks or delayed maintenance crews.

6. Ask About a Professional Cleaning

Once the apartment flood subsides, and repairs are done, you’ll likely need professional cleaning to restore your apartment. It may not be necessary to hire a cleaning crew if your bathroom floods a little or you have to mop up some water in the kitchen. 

However, if the flood was significant and not due to your own negligence, your landlord may be open to paying for the cleaning.

7. Contact Your Insurance Company

If you have renter’s insurance, call and inquire to see if your policy covers the damage. Most insurance requires a separate apartment flood policy for issues like weather and natural disasters. However, renter’s insurance will likely cover a water leak in your apartment that causes water damage to your personal belongings.

8. If Your Apartment Is Unlivable, Move Out

Sometimes flooding from a burst pipe, hurricane, or other storm damage will prove untenable. In these situations, you shouldn’t have a problem breaking the lease without a penalty. It’s possible you could temporarily move out while the landlord does repairs before moving back. 

Unless you know the repairs can be done quickly and relatively easily, it’s probably best to just break your lease and move. That’s the case unless you have a great deal on rent or feel you would have difficulty finding another apartment. 

9. Check Your Local Ordinances 

Most states require landlords to give advance notice for you to move out for apartment flood repairs. However, rules and regulations may differ depending on the severity and cause of the damage, like a natural disaster. 

In most situations, landlords also shouldn’t charge you rent during the duration of the repairs. Also, it’s possible they could reimburse you for moving expenses and other costs that exceed your usual living expenses. 

Final Thoughts

Flooded apartments can wreak havoc on your life and interrupt your daily life. However, you can jump into action and take control with a plan in place. 

With the help of your landlord, you can get on top of the problem and get back to enjoying your life. Good luck and stay safe!

By: Susan Finch
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