Living in an apartment leaves you (and your stuff!) vulnerable to a lot of things. Remember that your home is simply a unit in a building where other people live too. If you bought your own house and lot, it'd be different, but in the case of staying in an apartment, you never know what might happen. Something fairly common is water damage. It's not unorthodox to suddenly find water leakage seeping into your apartment, but if you don't address it quickly, it can easily damage your home and belongings. Let this guide help you navigate the situation clearly and concisely. It shows what you need to do, who you need to call, and more!
What are The Common Signs of Water Damage?
You may not spot them as soon as they appear, but there are many signs of water leakage seeping into your apartment. They include:
- Water droplets in random parts of the home
- Puddles appearing out of nowhere
- Musty smells
- Dark-colored water stains
- Peeling paint or wallpaper
- Bubbling or flaking paint
- Bowled ceiling
- Mold growing in random places
Make sure to keep your eyes and ears peeled when you start to notice some of these. Even when they seem small, they can easily lead to bigger and further water damage if you don't tend to them quickly.
Who Do You Call for Water Damage?
It's important to stay calm when you discover water leakage in your apartment. It's often difficult to find the source of the leak, especially in condensed apartment buildings. Think of the central neighborhoods in Paris
, for example. The city's beautiful Hausmann buildings are filled with apartments all cloistered together. In such units, you never know if the leak is coming from inside the home or from your neighbor. So it's important to look for the source first. If it's coming from your own apartment, call the plumber or contractor for help. On the flip side, if the source is your next-door or upstairs neighbor, then you need to contact the apartment building association.
Who Pays for The Repairs?
The person responsible for paying for the repairs also depends on your specific situation and is often a cause for contention as the living costs in London
, New York, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, and more are commonly high. Firstly, it depends on the source of the water leakage. If it's internal damage and you own the property, you have to pay for the repairs. You can let your home insurance help you with that. On the flip side, if you're just a tenant and you can prove that you didn't cause the internal damage, your landlord/property owner has to pay for it. And if the source is your neighbor, it's only natural that they have to compensate for the damages.
What are The Usual Costs for Repairs?
The extent of the water leakage and damage to your apartment dictate the costs of the repairs. At the same time, it will also depend on how the situation will unfold after the leakage is discovered. Typically, the costs will only include:
- Repair for the damage
- The remediation or moving company that will help take out your furniture during the repair.
In the case that the leakage and damage came from/was caused by your neighbor, it's possible that a conflict may arise and it could lead to court. In this instance, you'll also need to pay legal fees to help resolve or settle the matter.
What if The Leak Comes from Your Neighbor?
As already mentioned, if the water leakage in your apartment is coming from your neighbor, the situation becomes a bit more complex. Generally, you'll need the help of the apartment building association to act as the mediator between you and your neighbor. They will help look for and prove the source of the damage, assist in resolving, especially in terms of paying for the repairs, and for you to get proper compensation for any damaged furniture. They'll also prove vital if a conflict arises and you need to take it to court.
What if Your Upstairs Neighbor Isn't Cooperating?
In a situation where the water leakage in your apartment comes from your neighbor, you need help from the apartment building association to communicate with them. However, if the neighbor refuses to cooperate, you can take it to your local municipal hall. It's not even uncommon for it to reach the legal courts. As long as it's proven that the damage comes from your neighbor, it is then their responsibility to pay for the repairs and even compensate for any damaged furniture. You can sue them for their refusal to cooperate in small claims court.
How Do You Proceed with Home Insurance?
Fortunately, home insurance covers water damage, including leakage into your apartment. This is why if you buy a property in France
, Italy, Spain, the US, the UK, or wherever, getting proper home insurance is important. It can help cover the repairs for water damage. This especially includes:
- Accidental leaks
- Broken pipes
- Water damage after a fire
- Water damage caused by natural causes (i.e. heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms, etc.)
In only these situations can you claim your home insurance. There are, however, situations wherein your home insurance won't cover your claims. They include:
- Damage caused by floods
- Repairing the source of the leak (i.e. broken sink)
- Water damage from negligence
- Water damage from earthquakes
What if Your Items are Damaged?
In the event that the water leakage has damaged your furniture, your next course of action depends on the source. If it's an internal source, it's your responsibility to repair or replace them. In the case of tenancy, on the other hand, the responsibility then falls to your landlord/property owner, especially if you rented a furnished apartment. However, furniture damage from a water leakage only happens if the situation is not resolved in time. This might be a result of your negligence, and in this case, the responsibility falls back on you. And if the source is your neighbor, they have to compensate for these damages.
Do take note that home insurance typically doesn't cover damaged furniture in the case of water damage.
It's no secret that one of the most annoying things about living in an apartment is having to deal with water damage. If you discover a leak in your home, let this guide help you deal with the situation and find a solution.