May 30, 2023

Property Owners – Economics of Addressing Water Issues

It takes a lot of effort at times to maintain a rental or other properties. In the case of potential water leaks or water intrusion into a home takes time and money. What is the best way? Some owners take the approach to wait until a tenant tells them there is an issue and a standard lease normally requires the tenant to do so otherwise the tenant can be liable for damages if the landlord is not informed of issues in a timely manner. Even in these cases a landlord/owner may intentionally delay addressing a situation unless it is a clear emergency. Other landlords are very quick to respond to maintenance issues especially related to leaks or water damage of some sort.

Economically, which is approach is better? If water issues are addressed promptly then further damage to the property is averted and the health of the tenant is also safeguarded. Yes, this takes time and money. However, many times insurance can cover the expense depending on the cause. Having a good inexpensive licensed handyman or contractor can help a lot too. However, don’t make the mistake of using the handyman or other contractor to handle water damage issues since they are not trained for it and can make the situation worse for the tenant and increased liability on you the landlord.

If, as a landlord, you tend to bury your head in the sand and ignore water type issues and use an in expensive handyman to handle the issues making ‘some repairs’ then damage to the property will not have been dealt with correctly and the property becomes ‘unsafe’ for people to live there. That tends to increase the chances of the landlord getting sued by the tenant especially if the tenant has an expert do an inspection providing a report that clearly shows there are issues that need to be addressed.

Is it better to risk getting sued, having a judge order repairs and at that point insurance would not cover it? That can run into some higher dollars! Or is it better to address the issues as soon as they come up and appropriately hold the tenant responsible for their part in maintaining the property and informing you in a timely manner? You decide. BTW, it is a good idea to require the tenant to provide renter’s insurance with you, the landlord, as an ‘additionally insured’ since you will get notified by the insurance company if the insurance is getting ready to lapse. Some require the policy but forget to require being added to the policy and then when the tenant causes damage through neglect or accident you find out the renter’s policy lapsed and there is now no money to pay for the damages.

Steve Mullins (i.e. Mold Detector)
CMC, Certified Microbial Consultant
Moisture and Mold Detection, Inc.

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