Who’s responsible to pay for storm damage?
Date: 18/2/20 Category: Landlord Advice
During the midst of storm Ciara we received a question about storm damage.
Who’s responsible for repairing and paying for damage that happens to a rented property due to a storm?
The questions sounds like it has a straightforward answer
“The landlord” I hear you cry.
In the event of a storm, what happens to the property will be completely out of the tenants control.
So you are correct. In the circumstances of damage occurring to the property due to “Vis Major” (An overwhelming, unanticipated, and unpreventable event, usually caused by a natural force) it would be down to the landlord to pay for the repairs required at the property.
But, there’s a twist
The tenant has a responsibility to make their landlord or property manager aware of the damages. If the property manager or landlord does not have this information, they will not know if any action or maintenance needs to happen at the property
Let’s say the tenant has not made the property manager aware of the problem. In this case, we’ll use an example scenario.
During the storm, a number of tiles were stripped off the roof. It’s visible to see from the front of the property that there are tiles missing after the storm.
The tenant however, does not make the property manager aware that any damage has happened to the property.
Now, 3 months on, we experience a huge downpour of rain for a few days.
The missing roof tiles means the roof is vunurable to the elements. And in this heavy rain the roof starts to leak. Letting moisture in the property.
This leak has lead to water damage in the property. Which could lead to structural damage, weakening of floorboards, mould and damp or damage to the insulation of the roof.
Now who’s responsible for the property damage now?
In this scenario, it would be very likely that the tenant is now responsible for the damage that has occurred.
Due to the negligence of a tenant not taking responsibility to make the landlord or property manager aware of a major problem in a reasonable amount of time.
This problem has now become 10X worse.
It’s common practise for tenancy agreements to include a clause stating it’s the tenants responsibility to look after and maintain the property during their tenancy.
This includes things such as minor repairs, changing light bulbs, maintaining gardens, preserving the cleanliness of the property.
You’ll also find that there will be another clause which requires the tenant to make the landlord or property manager aware of any needed repairs or issues in the property when they arise.
Anything which is considered a major repair or implications that remedy the property not secure are down to the landlord or property manager to resolve… But this can only happen if they are made aware!
A turn in the tides
We also want to note that if the tenant has made their property manager or landlord aware of the damage the onus once again falls on the shoulders of the landlord/property manager.
This is why we highly recommend that tenants, landlords and property managers always keep track of evidence.
This can be in the form of email trails, printed letters and documents and even phone call recordings.
Such evidence can also be provided to the inventory company carrying out the inventory, check in or check out.
This will be taken into consideration by the inventory clerk and reflected in the report. So working with an inventory company that offers open lines of communication is will lead to your reports being even greater in quality.
What to do to when bad weather hits
Always ensure you have read your tenancy agreement fully. You’ll want to know what your responsibilities are in the event of such damage. If you are unclear, discuss this with your landlord or lettings agent. They’ll be be happy to assist you in understanding.
It’s important to always communicate clearly with your agent, property manager or landlord. If in the event of a storm there is damage done to the let, you should make them aware as soon as possible.
We’d also recommend that you keep track of these communications. Keeping email trails or even recording phone calls will provide vital evidence to prove you’ve done all you can if it ends up in a deposit dispute.
Landlords, Property managers & Agents
After a period of severely bad weather has passed, reach out to tenants to encourage them to communicate if there were any problems. This will help develop more open communication between you and the tenants.
We’d also highly recommend that mid term inspections are used to check the property is in good order. You can strategically organise these for after potentially damaging weather conditions.
These inspections provide the tenants with a good opportunity to communicate anything that has been damage or gone wrong. The inspection clerk will make you aware of any major issues, especially if they require immediate attention.