What to Do if You Have a Leaky Roof

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What to Do if You Have a Leaky Roof

Staff Writer · Mar 17, 2010

A leaky roof has the potential to cause major damage to your belongings, and it must be dealt with immediately. Homeowners have to worry about repairing the roof, but you don’t since you’re renting. However, you do have to let the landlord know there’s a problem, so that they can fix it.  You should also take steps to ensure your safety and protect your property.

Call or Leave a Message with Your Landlord

You may not be the cause of a leaky roof, but if you fail to act as soon as you notice it, that’s negligence that will cost you money down the road. Some renters have the attitude that it’s not their problem and react slowly, because they don’t own the apartment. However, you risk a lawsuit against you for negligence, since the only way for the landlord to know about the problem is through you telling them. This duty is either stated directly or indirectly in your lease agreement, but it’s implied in the legal relationship of a landlord and tenant as well. Make the call as soon as you notice a leaky roof. Follow up with an email if you don’t reach the landlord, or walk over to the property manager’s office and notify them in person if you live in an apartment building.

Remove Electronics

Unplug electronics in the room, and remove them. Place them in a room where there are no leaks. Be careful with devices that got wet, to avoid electrocuting yourself. If you sense danger, then you should turn off the circuit breaker for the room, before unplugging any devices.

Gather Buckets and Containers

You’ll want to catch the water coming in from a leaky roof so that you don’t slip and fall on wet floors. Gather all the buckets you can find, and miscellaneous containers you have in storage or around the apartment. Some containers that will work are:

  • Storage tubs
  • Large, empty coffee cans
  • Food containers and bowls
  • Trash cans
  • Infant bath tub

Collecting and dumping water is not convenient, but mold and mildew on carpets due to moisture is worse. It will irritate existing allergies or cause odors. Place the containers directly under the leaks, and spread towels around the area to absorb water that splashes.

Temporary Housing

A leaky roof can be severe, and moving out to temporary housing may be in order. Many states by law require your landlord to provide you with alternative housing at their expense while repairs are made. Each state is different, and some only require your landlord to reimburse your costs. Negotiate with your landlord the best course of action to take. This may not be much of a problem if the landlord owns other apartments, and one or more is vacant.

File an Insurance Claim

Assuming you have renters insurance, file a claim sooner rather than later for damaged goods. This will increase your chances of getting your claim processed, and it will speed up any payments coming your way.

Don’t panic when you have a leaky roof. Do react quickly to avoid extra damage.

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