Basement flooded - who's responsible for it?
February 13, 2009 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Need some landlord/tenant advice. Basement flooded and my insurance say it doesn't cover it due to negligence by the landlord. Full details inside.

Ok I am putting some feelers out for this because the situation just sucks.

I am renting and my basement flooded. My renters insurance doesn't cover my personal property because apparently I didn't take the "water by back up plan" which was never offered to me. My insurance company also states that my landlord's insurance should cover my stuff due to negligence (more on that in a sec). Landlord's insurance company claims my insurance should cover it unless I didn't get the "water by back up plan".

Now here's what caused the problem. There are 2 sump pumps. The main one, and one by the water heater. Neither one of these pumps were working properly. Had one been working properly then the basement wouldn't have flooded. On top of that the main sump pump was not even installed up to code. And I am pretty sure that the basement was not finished up to code at all.

So the question is, is my landlord liable for my personal property because of his negligence or am I just SOL?
posted by thebwit to Law & Government (7 answers total)
 
You have mis-summarized: your renter's insurance didn't cover your flood because it was specifically excluded from the policy. I have the same exclusion, and comments from my agent make me think it's pretty standard. Making sure you understand what you have bought is part of your agent's job; consider switching if yours doesn't do this.
Landlord's insurance company claims my insurance should cover it unless I didn't get the "water by back up plan".
Which you didn't. You're a little vague here. Was their reply just "you should have insured this yourself, have a nice day," or was the possiblity of compensating you left open?

You may well be out of luck. Even if you can make a case for negligence in principle, it might be cheaper just to buy your own replacement stuff.

Good luck.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:09 AM on February 13, 2009


Yes it was excluded. More specifically it wasn't offered to me which I would have taken due to having a previous incident with renters insurance about 7 years ago. Both insurance companies basically state I am SOL.

Unfortunately it won't be cheaper to buy my own replacement stuff as it is somewhere in the value of $15,000-$20,000.
posted by thebwit at 11:30 AM on February 13, 2009


...it is somewhere in the value of $15,000-$20,000

In which case a consultation with a lawyer is peanuts by comparison.
posted by jon1270 at 11:51 AM on February 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


A code violation is taken as per se evidence of negligence in some jurisdictions. Talk to an attorney.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:05 PM on February 13, 2009


The sump pump wasn't working? That sounds like negligence to me. Of course your landlord's insurance company will say something else because they don't want to pay. If you haven't figured it out already, you are not in good hands with Allstate. Insurance companies are the lowest of the low. Legal scam artists. Tell them you are going to sue the landlord for the cost of the items and see whether that changes their tune. If you sue him they will have to hire an attorney to defend him. That is an expense right there. It won't win you any brownie points with your landlord though. If you do sue, it probably would be a good idea to hire an attorney, but it is also something you can do yourself with assistance of the court clerk. Often the real threat of suit brings the insurance company to the bargaining table, but then they will start to dispute the value of your goods. Start gathering that evidence now.
posted by caddis at 12:33 PM on February 13, 2009


We need more info, but here is some info that may help.

Does your building/complex/flat have a "must have renter's insurance" clause? If so, does it also have a "must include flood insurance" clause?

If the answer to the first and second, or just the second is "no". Take your landlord to court.

You did nothing wrong, followed all the rules, and still got screwed.

Now is the damage really worth $15,000-$20,000? Didn't you JUST post an askme about airing out a wet basement? Did you really put all that money in a basement that might flood again.

Sorry...derailing. Not what you want.

Is the cost to replace the goods to the same condition they were before the water damage in the $15-20K range? I'm not talking about a VCR you bought in 1983 for $600, but it being worth about $15 now. Is the cost REALLY $15-20K?

If it is, you NEED to get a lawyer. If the cost is more reasonable ($10K or less for IL), I suggest you take this to small claims court ALONG with your lease/renters agreement, and a letter from your insurance agent talking about the landlord's negligence. If you could get an independent plumber to check the stuff and write you a letter too, that would help.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:04 PM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Didn't you JUST post an askme about airing out a wet basement?

That was a question about airing out a basement to get rid of cigarette smoke, not water.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:12 PM on February 13, 2009


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