Houston renters should begin preparing their homes for freezing temperatures

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Housing Authority spokesperson Adrian Hudspeth said when it comes to preparing for weather, renters should check their lease and contact their landlord to know what they are responsible for.

About 57% of Houstonians are renters, and nearly 45% of Harris County residents are renters, according to a report from the Kinder Institute.

Hudspeth said depending on the lease agreement, a renter could be responsible for preparing the home for the anticipated icy weather conditions.

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"Small things such as disconnecting water hoses, wrapping pipes, covering plants, taking care of pets. That's the tenant's responsibility," Hudspeth said. "Other items such as serious weather strips, and things like that would be the owner's responsibility."

When a pipe freezes and bursts, it can cause severe water damage to your home.

State Farm Insurance estimates the average insurance claim for damage from a frozen pipe is about $15,000.

SEE ALSO: Here's what you can do now at home before the freezing temps

"Tenants might want to reach out to the owner and find out exactly where the water cut off [is located]. Because, if a pipe does burst, you want to be able to turn off the water," Hudspeth said. "If conditions are such to where owners can not get out there, maintenance can not get out there, you want to at least be able to turn the water off."

President of the Houston Apartment Association John Boriack said if you see water leaking or pooling in your home, you need to call your landlord or maintenance immediately.

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Not all freezing conditions are the same, and some could have much more serious consequences to your property.

"That's why it's so important for renters to have renters insurance," Boriack said. "Because the property owner's insurance policy is only going to cover the building itself."

Hudspeth said if tenants with the HHA need to report a repair, you first need to contact your landlord. You can also email inspections@housingforhouston.com.

When it comes to homeowners insurance, CEO and consultant for J. Archer Insurance Group Johnte Archer said the problem is most people buy insurance blindly and sometimes go the cheap route just to save a few bucks.

"It's when you look at the policy and peel it back, you realize there is lower limits than you expected, the deductible is higher than expected or there is exclusions you didn't know was in your policy," Archer said.

So, if you go with a high deductible, make sure you have that specific amount saved up in case you need to pay out of pocket. Also, remember flooding can be tricky.

"So any water that seeps up like melted snow, that's considered flood, and it will not be covered in typical homeowner's policy," she said.

Lastly, check how much coverage you have in case of an accident like a vehicle pileup.

"Do [you] have an umbrella coverage?" she asked. "I mean, if people lose their lives, you're talking about millions of dollars you could be sued for. If there is no umbrella in place, you can lose everything you worked for."

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