If weather caused pipes to burst, do landlords or renters pay for repairs?

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Friday, February 19, 2021
Who pay for repairs if cold weather caused pipes to burst?
If you're a renter, and the frigid weather busted pipes, ABC13 took a look at who's responsible for repairs.

JERSEY VILLAGE, Texas (KTRK) -- If you're a renter, and the frigid weather burst pipes in your home, ABC13 took a look at who's responsible for repairs.

A Jersey Village family experienced the damage a burst pipe can have on a house this week.

"There are holes in all the pipes," resident Carmen Leblanc explained. "There are holes all around the house, and you can even see levels on the furniture showing where the water came up to."

Carmen and Joseph Leblanc have spent the past couple of days cleaning the mess. Their worry now is who pays for repairs?

"With this tragedy, we've never experienced this, so we don't know," said Joseph. "We don't know our next move, though."

The couple doesn't own the home. They're renters. Their landlord asked them to clean the water, and debris, but they don't know what will happen next.

"I don't even know where to start," said Carmen.

Whether you rent a home or apartment, the Houston Apartment Association said if a pipe burst this week, repairs should be covered by your landlord.

"The only time a resident could be responsible is if something bursts and a renter sees it, and they allow the water to persist," Houston Apartment Association executive board member, Stephanie Graves explained. "They don't try to find a main. For three days you're watching it run in your house."

As for the items destroyed by water, experts say you could be stuck.

"If you don't have renters insurance, the chances of something being covered in your apartment are very slim," Graves explained.

Another hard freeze is expected Friday morning. Experts said landlords are responsible to winterize pipes to prevent breaks, but it should be a team effort because landlords are stretched thin due to ongoing cold conditions.

"Fill up your bathtubs as best as you can with water," Graves said. "If you can, at eight o'clock [Thursday] before things go wrong, turn off that main water valve, so that way, there's no water in your pipes."

If a break occurs, experts explained you should document the damage with photos and videos, and contact your landlord after you turned off the water. If you're having trouble reaching them, don't just call.

"[The] best thing you can do is try to put it in writing. Try to email it," Graves explained. "Try to text it, if your property has texting. So that way, there's something in writing of when it was submitted."

If the water causes severe damage, you may have to move. Experts said it depends on what your lease states. If you're unsure, look for the natural disaster section.

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