Water damage in a rental property can cause tremendous damage.
While no one can predict exactly when a rental property may flood, it’s important to prepare as much as possible. Kathy Grey, Manager at Real Property Management Houston said, “The great Memorial Day flood of 2015 led to water damage in a rental property and a tenant wanting to be reimbursed when the whole lower level flooded. As in all cases, we politely and respectfully draw tenants back to the lease regarding areas of responsibility.”
Then there was the case of water damage caused by a leaky water line to a refrigerator. It was quickly discovered which limited damage. Kathy always tells her property owner clients, “The tenant is the next most important asset to your property, so it’s important that my team is responsive and treats both the owners and the tenants with dignity and respect.” Real Property Management offices advise tenant’s to carry personal insurance, as most leases state that damage due to water is the tenant’s responsibility.
In cases where repair work is performed at a rental, Kathy says, “we make sure tenants are happy with the outcome before paying the invoice. This allows us to know what our vendors are doing right or wrong and builds good tenant relations.” Because hard freezes are rare in their area, the Real Property Management Houston team goes the extra mile by sending warning messages about potential hard freezes to prepare tenants to make sure everything is properly insulated, and provide them video instruction on what to do and reminders of their responsibilities.
Kathy’s advice to owners is to make sure they understand both the tenant and owner responsibilities forissues related to flooding, as outlined in the management and lease agreements.
Sam Thompson, owner of Real Property Management Midwest, is familiar with issues caused by frozen pipes in Ohio and Kentucky, but had never previously experienced water damage attributed to a wireless thermostat that had lost connection. Unfortunately the “default setting” on the thermostat was to turn OFF. As a result, the heat went out, and pipes burst. During a showing of the home one Friday night, the flooding was discovered and damage was mitigated to a few hundred dollars inside the home.
Sam’s advice to rental home owners is to review their insurance policy annually as it relates to flooding. In addition, tenants should always carry renter’s insurance. Also, always shut off the water in vacant properties and if there is a flooding situation, address it immediately.
Spring is a good time to make sure you fully understand your insurance policies and owner, tenant, and property manager responsibilities. The more you understand before a crisis, the easier it will be to deal with one should it arise.