Here’s what to do if your apartment floods.
Your apartment floods, and it’s a nightmare. What you do next can impact how well you recover both emotionally and financially. Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States, according to The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Flooding has cost Americans more than $850 billion since 2000 and is responsible for 2/3 of the cost of all natural disasters.
When you own a home, the steps you take after a flooding are different from when you rent. Renters must be informed of local renter laws to determine who will be held liable for a flooding. Here is more information about flooding and what to do if your apartment floods.
What to do if a room starts flooding.
If you are home and a room starts flooding, immediate action can reduce destruction and repairs. First, find out where the water is coming from. If you can trace it to a sink or toilet, turn off the water source if possible. If you can’t turn it off yourself, immediately call your building super or property manager.
If the leak is coming from your ceiling, call the property manager and notify them of the leak. If you feel comfortable or have a good relationship with the person, you could attempt to notify your upstairs neighbor in hopes they can shut off the source of the leak. Move any items in the room with the leak that could be damaged by water. Water can rise significantly in a short period of time, so it’s vital to move quickly.
What to do if weather is causing flooding.
If your apartment flooding is being brought on by a storm or other natural disaster, your safety is paramount over protecting belongings. If you live in an area where flooding is common or possible, you might want to invest in a waterproof safety box. If it’s safe to do so, you can place valuable items in a waterproof safety box or as high as you can in your apartment. If you have notice ahead of a storm, ask your landlord or property manager if they are boarding up windows and if you can board yours up.
Most importantly, your safety takes precedence over objects. Stay away from moving water or flooding and get to a safe location.
What to do when you come back to your apartment.
Don’t return to your apartment until authorities deem it safe. Avoid driving through areas where there is still flooding. Your apartment can still be dangerous after a flood, so take caution before re-entering your home:
- Wear clothing that covers your skin like rubber gloves and waterproof boots.
- Be cautious of mold, especially if you have allergies.
- Check ceilings and floors for structural damage; even a crack in the wrong place can make a place unsafe.
- Ask the owner to turn off electricity, water, and gas lines.
- There may be snakes, animals, or bugs that have made their way into your apartment, so be aware when surveying your apartment
When it is safe, you can start to assess the damage. Document everything, keeping track of anything that was severely damaged including the apartment itself and your personal property. Photos are the easiest way to keep track of everything. Keep receipts and record of any purchases you make to repair damages to your apartment for reimbursement.
Renters insurance and flooding.
Unfortunately, most renters insurance policies don’t cover water damage brought on by flooding. If you live in an area that floods, you might be able to get insurance with a flood clause that protects items inside the structure. No matter the cause of damages, report everything to your insurance. Your renters policy may cover some costs of displacement and temporary relocation.
Apartment floods are a nightmare and also common. If you live in an area where flooding occurs regularly, you should take precautions like having a waterproof safety box. Have your property manager or building super’s numbers handy, so that you can call them quickly if you notice flooding. If flooding is brought on by weather, stay safe and evacuate when instructed. When returning to your apartment to assess damage, where protective clothing and be cautious of your surroundings. Document damages and take photos to submit to your insurance or landlord.