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Alex J. Esq.
Alex J. Esq., Attorney at Law
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 12750
Experience:  Attorney experienced in Landlord-Tenant Law.
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My basement flooded, ruining a lot of my things, and the landlord

Customer Question

My basement flooded, ruining a lot of my things, and the landlord says it is my responsibility to clean up the mud. Is this true?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Alex Esquire :

Hello. My name is XXXX. X will be happy to answer your question today!

Alex Esquire :

Are you online with me?

Customer :

yes

Alex Esquire :

Welcome to JustAnswer.com

Alex Esquire :

I am sorry about your unfortunate situation.

Alex Esquire :

Can you please tell how the flooding happened and what caused it?

Alex Esquire :

Are you online with me?

Alex Esquire :

Can you please tell how the flooding happened and what caused it?

Customer :

excessive rain, sump pump could not keep up, water came through walls and garage door

Alex Esquire :

got it.

Alex Esquire :

Do you have a written lease with your landlord?

Customer :

yes

Customer :

there is no mention of flooding

Alex Esquire :

What was the amount of the flood damage and do you know if your landlord is making an insurance claim? What state are you in?

Customer :

Don't have an estimate on damage to home, but have lost all family room furniture and electronics and storage items which I know are my responsibility. Main worry is biohazard and removal of damaged belongings. Also, concerned with continuing to live here during upcoming spring weather! I am in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Alex Esquire :

One more thing. Is basement listed as a part of your lease and does the lease specify whether it is you or the landlord who is to carry flood or other insurance on the rental property/house?

Customer :

The entire house is included in lease, but doesn't specify that I should carry flood insurance. Only thing specified is Renters insurance on our belongings. When I talked to her this morning she said that she told me that the garage sometimes floods so that is why there was a sump pump there, which is true, and that she had never seen it flood in the living areas.

Alex Esquire :

Thank you for your follow up.

Alex Esquire :

Do you know if the landlord / owner in fact have flood insurance?

Customer :

I don't know, but it appears to have flooded previously because there are marks on the some of the walls. Also, I don't think that flood insurance covers excessive rain here.

Alex Esquire :

It should

Alex Esquire :

Did you make a claim against your renter's insurance and is this type of damage covered?

Alex Esquire :

I am just trying to make sure that we cover all basis, before I provide you with my answer and the more I know about the situation, the more accurate my answer will be.

Customer :

No, this type of damage is not covered.

Customer :

That's cool! Thank you

Customer :

Contract does state that we are responsible for any repairs up to $175, due to neglect or damage.

Alex Esquire :

Do you know what it would cost to get the mud removed and to clean up this damage? Have you obtained any written estimates?

Customer :

No, but I can.

Customer :

I do have lots of pictures.

Alex Esquire :

Well, the first step would be for you to get a written estimate from a licensed professional local company that does flood recovery and mud removal.

Alex Esquire :

Also, have you given your landlord a written notice demanding for the mud to be removed and for the house to be restored?

Customer :

OK. No written notice, just verbal. She says it isn't her responsibility, but my responsibility to keep the house clean.

Alex Esquire :

This is not about keeping the house clean. It is about flood damage from the rain.

Alex Esquire :

So, I would suggest that you start off by:

Alex Esquire :

1) get couple of written estimated for the cost of the clean up.

Alex Esquire :

Also, when does your lease expire and what is your monthly rent and are you happy with this rental?

Customer :

About 15 months before lease expiration, $1700/month, and I'm not at all happy today!

Alex Esquire :

I understand you are no happy with the current situation.

Alex Esquire :

The reason I asked about the overall situation, is because, if it costs under $1,000 to clean up all the mess and you simply do not want to start trouble with your current landlord, many tenants would decide to cover the costs. However, if you really don't care about this rental house, one way or the other, then you would not hesitate about contesting this issue with the landlord.

Alex Esquire :

Does that make sense?

Customer :

Yes, it makes sense.

Customer :

Do we have a legal right to move now. I feel like she makes the contract null and void by refusing to clean up and non-disclosure of flooding problem. Legally, who's responsibility is it to clean up?

Alex Esquire :

2) Once you obtain written estimated and review the amount of costs to repair / remove damage, then you can submit a written notice by certified mail to the landlord to fix the damage or to agree to pay for the service and if they do not, then you would pursue an action in local court for breach of your lease.

Alex Esquire :

Absent provision that you have to carry flood insurance and that you would be responsible for any damage caused by the nature/natural disaster to the house, the landlord would generally be held responsible for such damage.

Alex Esquire :

You do not have the right to move out, until you have given a written notice to the landlord and also given the landlord reasonable time to cure such breach by cleaning the damage.

Alex Esquire :

Verbal notice is not sufficient and also is impossible to document.

Alex Esquire :

Does that make sense?

Customer :

Yes.

Alex Esquire :

If the landlord doesn't clean up within lets say 7 days after you serve the landlord with the notice, then you can file a lawsuit in the local court for the breach of your lease and ask the court to release you from the lease / void the lease and also seek any damages from the landlord, such as the cost of your relocation.

Alex Esquire :

Does that make sense?

Customer :

Yes that makes sense. I think that you have answered my question. Thank you very much.

Alex Esquire :

One thing that might help speed things up, is if you were to consult with a local landlord / tenant attorney to send a notice to the landlord to fix this issue and the landlords have been known to take warnings / letters from lawyers much more seriously than the ones from tenants.

Alex Esquire :

Do you have any related follow up question?

Alex Esquire :

Thank you and please click on the "excellent service" rating, so I can receive credit for my answer. Bonus and positive feedback are always appreciated, but is not required.

Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Our chat has ended, but you can still continue to ask me questions here until you are satisfied with your answer. Come back to this page to view our conversation and any other new information.

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Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Dear Tammy,

Thank you and please click on the "excellent service" rating, so I can receive credit for my answer. Bonus and positive feedback are always appreciated, but is not required.

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