Premises Liability: Water Leaks or Flooding, Is my Landlord Liable for This Kind of Damage?

When you rent from a landlord, you expect the premises to be habitable for not only yourself but also your family on many occasions. So what happens if your landlord fails to uphold those duties? The truth is, landlords have duties that may not be implied just from signing the papers to your new home. Landlords are permitted to repair the pipes and plumbing in a rental unit and maintain them in good shape because the lease requires it. So what happens if there is a water leak in your home or flooding has occurred? Who is liable?

Implied Warranty of Habitability

Landlords legally must abide by something known as Implied Warranty of Habitability. This is a warranty implied by law that the premises must always be fit and habitable for humans alike and that things will remain this way for the entirety of the lease. Often times, you will hear that specific conditions have violated this warranty, such as not having drinkable water, working electricity, or an infestation. However, the same applies to homes with water leaks and flooding. And in this case, we don’t just refer to a small drip that keeps you up at night. No, large plumbing problems may cause a breach in the warranty and also put you at risk in your own rental. This can include problems that greatly affect the habitability or cause health and safety issues.

In many cases, if you find that there is a significant water-related problem on the premises and it keeps you from living in your rental, you should notify the landlord immediately and request that the condition be repaired. However, some landlords may not listen to your cries for help and, in that case, other actions may follow.

Good Insurance Policies

A good rental insurance policy makes a great preventative matter. Many people find out too late that they could have purchased a decent renter’s insurance policy and they would have been covered when this water-related issue occurred in their rental property. Many renters’ insurance policies will cover you if there has been a burst pipe, water heater, or waterbed. When you have this type of policy, you will not have to worry about replacing anything because the policy takes care of it for you out-of-pocket.

What Happens if a Landlord Does Not Make Repairs to a Condition?

Let’s say that there is an uninhabitable condition inside your rental property and you have spoken to the landlord – however, much to your surprise, your landlord has ignored your requests. What could you do to take action in this desperate situation?

  • You could always choose to move out and terminate the lease if the repairs are not made in a reasonable amount of time.
  • You could choose to sue for damages. Was there a breach of warrant of habitability? Along with this, you could also choose to sue and force the landlord to make necessary repairs. Tenants are permitted to get a court order forcing the landlord to make repairs. However, courts are less likely to use this option because it involves costly court supervision to ensure that all repairs have been made.

Has your rental property become uninhabitable due to water damages? Your landlord may have to take care of any associated repairs. However, if you have a hard time convincing your landlord to do so and they have forced you into a bad situation, you may have no choice but to take action. Find out what options you have today by calling Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi.