Know your rights: Flood water damage if you're a renter

Flood waters can have devastating consequences on your rental apartment or home. Many of your rights and responsibilities, as well as those of landlords, are controlled by the laws of the state where the property is located. Additionally, your lease may have clauses specifically addressing water damage. Here's what to know about your rights as a renter if you have suffered water damage in your home.

According to, the law requires your landlord to repair conditions that affect the physical health and safety of ordinary tenants. After it's safe to return, you and your landlord must assess whether a home is habitable. Depending on where you live, local housing laws may hold landlords to higher repair standards. You may be able to terminate your lease depending on the initial terms and the extent of the damage.

However, if you are able to stay in the unit while repairs are being made, you must still pay rent. Landlords may wait till they receive money from property insurance claims to begin repairs.

Landlords are not responsible for loss or damage to your personal belongings. If you have renters insurance or flood insurance, it may cover property damage. If there is a disaster declaration, apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within 60 days of the declaration. Call 800.621.FEMA; go to the website, or go to a FEMA Disaster Assistance Center in your area.
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