Tenant Toolkit: Water Intrusion

Water Intrusion – Floods, Leaks, Roof and Weatherproofing Issues.

Generally, “water intrusion” means that an unusually large amount of water or moisture has saturated some part of your home to the point where it caused significant damage or health problems. Damage can result from direct exposure to water, or, from mold and mildew that grow when your landlord fails to make proper repairs.

How Can Water Intrusion Happen?
Water intrusion can be long and drawn out, like the slow drip of a leaky pipe. Water intrusion can also be sudden and accidental, like a big flood caused by a broken sprinkler system or bad appliance. Water intrusion may also be barely noticeable at all until it’s too late – such as when cracks in windows allow outdoor moisture to enter the home over time.

Common sources of water intrusion include:

  • Leaky pipes inside the walls
  • Broken appliances – washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator/freezer, etc.
  • Sewage problems
  • Bad caulking around plumbing or showers
  • Broken windows
  • Leaky roofing

Is Water Intrusion Bad?
In addition to ruining whatever items get wet, water intrusion can cause excess moisture to build up in your home. Excess moisture can harm people with existing medical problems, and can also cause harmful organisms to grow around you. These harmful organisms include, for example, airborne mold and allergens, volatile organic compounds, and even dust mites. For this reason, it is important to tell your landlord about the water intrusion as soon as possible. You should also tell your landlord as soon as you find out that the moisture in your home is harming your health.

What Should I Do About Water Intrusion?
Whatever the source of the water may be, you must report any type of water intrusion to your landlord the moment you know about it. Do not hesitate to email, call, text, or write a letter to your landlord letting them know what has happened. It is always best to put it in writing, so, if you call your landlord, make sure to follow up with a text or email describing what you told them about.

Your landlord may be liable for failing to respond quickly, or with repairs that don’t really solve the whole problem. However, you will lose your right to claim damages and may even be held liable yourself if you fail to say anything about water intrusion.

You might try to repair it at some point if you are capable. However, do not attempt anything beyond tightening a pipe without first: (1) Telling your landlord in writing; (2) Getting their express permission to attempt the fix; and (3) Gaining their promise to repay you for any costs. As always, get it in writing.

Click here for a sample letter providing notice of water intrusion.

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