646 666 9601 [email protected]



Protecting tenants and buildings against periodic or unexpected floods poses significant legal issues for landlords in flood-prone locations. Discover how to be prepared.

What you will discover:

What are the most typical issues that landlords confront following a flood?
Are landlords accountable for personal property damage caused by flooding?
How can landlords assist renters in preparing for flooding?
What may a landlord do if a tenant refuses to leave when ordered?
Is flood damage covered by insurance?

It pours when it rains. And when it floods, there will undoubtedly be water damage. Protecting tenants and property assets against periodic or unforeseen flooding disasters may be a major concern for landlords or property managers in flood-prone areas. While it may be impossible to halt a flood, with proper planning, you may be ready for anything from a broken water pipe to a natural calamity.


What are the most typical issues that landlords confront following a flood?

Landlords face various safety, legal, and financial difficulties as a result of flooding. Whether floods enter your rental property from inside or outside, the true damage may not be apparent for many days, when wood and drywall begin to rot and mildew. As a result, a timely reaction is required to limit and reduce water damage. The longer items remain damp, the more difficult it is to fix them.

Landlords are normally responsible for undertaking any property repairs required to make the property suitable for renters once again. Due to high demand, obtaining contractors to conduct repairs immediately after a flood caused by Mother Nature may be difficult and expensive. If renters are unable to remain in their rentals while repairs are being made, rent may be waived or other arrangements made. Landlords are not normally liable for any water-damaged furniture or personal things belonging to a renter. As detailed below, most renters insurance policies may cover personal property damage.

Handling insurance claims and tenant access requests after a flood may bring landlords a number of issues. When it is safe, an inspector or insurance adjuster may survey the damage and your renters can return to their home. Keeping renters away after a severe flood might be difficult at times, but care should be made to ensure that the property is safe to access when you do allow it. In addition, depending on the location and degree of the damage, furniture, personal objects, walls, carpets, and insulation may be removed for inspection. This will assist you in inspecting the degree of the water damage as well as the presence of mold within walls, floors, and ceilings. Waiting too long to look for water penetration and mold might result in more severe damage and higher repair costs.

The legal and financial difficulties for flooding caused by a renter are somewhat different. Landlords will still be obligated to repair the property, but renters may be charged for the damage they did. The Lease Agreement should include these obligations and duties.

Are landlords accountable for personal property damage caused by flooding?

In general, landlords are not responsible for flood water damage to a tenant’s personal property caused by a weather event or natural catastrophe. While the landlord is responsible for property repairs following a flood, such as replacing drywall or flooring, the renter is liable for repairing or replacing any damaged personal goods. Notably, if a tenant can demonstrate that the landlord’s carelessness caused the flood or water damage, the landlord may be held accountable for personal property loss.

Flood and water damage in multifamily buildings may be problematic since a flood in one unit might affect many others, causing harm to tenants who had nothing to do with the incident. When these situations develop, landlords may wish to consult with an attorney about how to proceed and how to react to affected renters.

How can landlords assist renters in preparing for flooding?

Preparation is critical. When flooding is forecast, moving swiftly to put up barriers, prepare the property, evacuate tenants, or rapidly dry things out after a flood may make all the difference. Keeping the necessary emergency supplies on hand may assist guarantee that the property is ready if you, your maintenance staff, or your renters need to take quick action.

To prepare your renters for a flood caused by a weather event or tragedy, make sure they know what to do in an emergency and:

Stock up on torches, buckets, and bottled water.
Sandbag the property’s perimeter or board up windows.
Turn off the property’s main electricity or utilities.
In the event of a storm or hurricane, secure outdoor furniture.
Provide an evacuation route map.
List emergency phone numbers, such as those for the local fire and police agencies.

To avoid plumbing, non-natural catastrophe, or weather-related flooding, urge your renters to keep a watch on sinks, toilets, showers, windows, dishwashers, washing machines, and hot water heaters for leaks or possible problems and to tell you immediately if they see any. Furthermore, you may need regular inspections of all rentals, which would include sending in a professional to assess appliances and pipelines for any maintenance, upkeep, or repair concerns, allowing you to stay ahead of a possible catastrophe. The sooner you detect and repair a broken appliance or pipe, the better for you and your renter.

Because flooding is often unanticipated, insurance coverage may make a significant difference when it comes to paying to repair the damage caused by floods. Tenants may need their own coverage since a landlord’s property insurance may not cover a renter’s personal belongings. Renters insurance may be purchased by landlords and property managers, or tenants may be required to maintain their own policies with particular minimum coverage requirements.

What may a landlord do if a tenant refuses to leave when ordered?

The degree of the damage will determine whether renters stay in a rental after a large flood. It may be illegal for a renter to stay in a home that has been designated uninhabitable by local authorities if the property is no longer livable. In these cases, you should notify local law enforcement. If a tenant refuses to leave during a calamity, the landlord may have little choice but to alert the police.

The extent of damage determines whether a renter may continue in the rental while repairs after a flood. Being present may not be safe. Several difficulties, depending on your lease and local or state legislation, may occur that you should be prepared to handle, such as:

Will the renter have to pay rent while the repairs are being made?
Who will foot the bill for temporary housing?
Can the lease be terminated if the property becomes uninhabitable?

If your contract does not address these problems, you should consider amending it to protect both you and your renters. If you want assistance in changing your lease, consult with a knowledgeable attorney to discover what terms are permissible and may be added. If a tenant refuses to evacuate the premises for extensive repairs, the landlord may be required to serve an Eviction Notice and seek an eviction via the courts in most countries.

Is flood damage covered by insurance?

Most landlords’ property insurance is comparable to a regular homeowners policy in that it protects the leased premises against responsibility for accidents and specific damage caused by hail, fire, water, flood, and a variety of other frequent hazards. However, these insurance plans are created to protect landlords, which means that some safeguards, such as personal property coverage, are omitted. Furthermore, in certain areas, basic property insurance policies may exclude frequent calamities such as floods, fires, or earthquakes. In this case, a separate insurance is required to cover the expressly excluded peril.

Damage to the building structure, electrical and plumbing systems, foundation walls, stairs, furnaces, water heaters, appliances, well water tanks and pumps, and carpets is normally covered by an insurance provided by a private insurer or the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance does not cover damage caused by any other source. The policy wording determines what is and is not covered in the event of a flood. To determine if you are protected for water damage or floods, go through your insurance plans and look for gaps in coverage.

Understanding your legal duties during a flood or other catastrophe is crucial to ensuring the safety of your tenants and property. If you have any more queries, please contact a lawyer.


Legal Help CTA