Is it the landlord's or your responsibility to fix storm damage to rented property? Expert explains

Courtney Carpenter Image
Saturday, May 25, 2024
Is it the landlord's or your responsibility to fix storm damage to rented property? Expert explains
For some, the road to recovery has just begun after last week's storm, but many wonder who is responsible for the damage. ABC13's Renter Rights calls on experts to lay it out.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As some are just at the start of the long road to recovery after last week's storm, it is essential to know, if you rent, what you are responsible for fixing versus what your landlord should take care of.

"I came back, and everything was destroyed," explained Selena Obregon, who lives in Spring Branch with her husband and four kids.

It's been a long week for many of us as we went days without power and dealt with damage from the powerful storm that blew through.

RELATED: Disaster recovery expert weighs in on how long it takes to rebuild from a derecho

"I am going to go ahead and try to see if I can get my food stamps replaced because all of my food got damaged," explained Obregon.

Like Selena, many renters are now figuring out their responsibility to replace and what should be up to the landlord.

Since the power outage, in this case, was caused by a natural disaster, renters will have to pay to replace their spoiled food.

However, if you rent, you can apply for FEMA's Serious Need Assistance which may provide $750 that can be used to buy food.

Regarding storm damage to your apartment or home you rent, it is the landlord's responsibility.

"They are the ones that need to make those repairs, so making sure that you are also putting all of this in writing, noting that to your landlord and giving them the information of what was broken or what was damaged by the storm," explains Julia Orduna, the Southeast Texas Regional Director of Texas Housers.

RELATED: How to get help from FEMA if you were impacted by last week's destructive storms

Orduna explains that documenting damage and constantly communicating with your landlord is especially important after a disaster.

"If you are putting money into a home that is not your property, make sure you are communicating with the landlord as well if you are spending money on mucking and gutting, if you had to take any of the debris out, all of that should be well documented," says Orduna.

When it comes to damaged personal property like household items, clothes, or electronics, you are responsible, though you may be able to get some help from your renters' insurance or FEMA.

If your home is unlivable after this storm and you have to move out, Orduna advises people to take time to understand their lease and realize that you do still have to pay rent while repairs are underway.

You also should talk to your landlord about what options you have if you'll need to be out of your home for an extended period of time.

Also, be sure to document all expenses if you do have to leave. FEMA also has displacement assistance, which are up front funds to help with immediate housing.

RELATED: Nearly 30,000 CenterPoint Energy customers still in the dark 1 week after deadly storm in Houston

This derecho is yet another test of resilience, especially for those living paycheck to paycheck.

"They're not used to the hot and I haven't worked either because over there by my area, they don't have no power either," explained Obregon.

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Do you have questions about your rent? Are you struggling to get help from a landlord? Send us your questions, and we will look into it.