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Apartment Resident Rights and Responsibilities after a Flood

Your Lease – Many of your rights and responsibilities after a natural disaster are determined by the lease agreement between you and the property owner. Leases are not all the same. Make sure you read your lease to know what rights and obligations you have.


 

State Law - Regardless of what your lease says:

a. The Habitability Statute requires an owner to make a diligent effort to repair or remedy a condition that “materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary resident” within a reasonable time. Water-stained walls or the temporary lack of carpet probably don’t meet this standard, but other conditions (inoperable toilets, standing water, etc.) certainly do.
b. What is a reasonable time depends on the situation – such as the availability of insurance proceeds, materials and labor, and would ultimately be for a court to decide if you wanted to get out of your lease because you think the owner took too long. Sometimes, especially after a natural disaster, it can take longer than usual to get the supplies and contractors you need to make needed repairs.
c. If your unit is totally unusable, either you or the owner can terminate the lease, and you may be entitled to a refund of part of the rent you paid for that month.
d. If your unit is partially unusable, you may be entitled to a “reduction in the rent in an amount proportionate to the extent the premises are unusable because of the casualty, but only on judgment of a county or district court.”
e. The owner may have to interrupt utilities to make repairs. This could include water, electricity, gas, or any combination of those.


 

Tips – It’s important to make sure your personal property is thoroughly dried to reduce mold, which is always a problem after a flood event. The property owner may want to remove the carpet and carpet pad as quickly as possible. Do what you can to help the owner deal with your furniture and other property to make this easier on the property staff, and to minimize further damage to your furniture and other property.

 

Try to get ruined items into the property dumpsters, if possible. The City of Houston has arranged for extra containers and extra pickups at Greenspoint properties to help make this easier.

 

Contact your renter’s insurance carrier as soon as possible. Pictures of damaged property are always helpful for claims.

 

If you decide to stay elsewhere while repairs are being made, please leave contact information with the apartment management in case they need to reach you.


 

Am I still supposed to pay rent? –Under most lease agreements, there’s no rent due until the first of the month. By then, you and the property owner should have a better idea about the extent of the damage. If the unit is totally unusable, you or the owner can terminate the lease.

 

Helping Flood Victims 

April Flooding Information 

Informacion en Espanol