My living room floods regularly!

13 Replies

Two weeks ago my ground level apartment flooded due to heavy rainfall. I figured this was coming. Every time it rains hard the water does not drain properly into the two drains off my porch and my porch disappears under water, then the water starts coming in under the sliding door. Then two weeks ago it more than came in. It was halfway into the living room and it seeped in to the bedroom under through the outer walls as well. Our king size foam mattress soaked up all that water and got ruined. We contacted the property managers, they sent someone out to clean the carpets and we got an industrial fan for two days to dry out the carpet. They told us they would call a contractor to figure out the problem, but warned us that it would take time because they have to get bids in. They gave us a couple sandbags to set outside our door. We bought ourselves a new mattress (and a waterproof mattress cover to put on like a boat for future protection.)

On Sunday it rained and flooded again. Both bedroom and living room wet. The sandbags did absolutely nothing. The next day was Memorial Day so the best the maintenance staff could do was bring in a little shop vac to try and get out some of the water and there was a discussion of trying to shore up the outside to keep this from happening again. Last night, it rained again and even more water came in than did on Sunday. It hadn't even finished drying yet! My apartment is starting to smell like mildew and my kids are playing in this damp living room space. The property management team is starting to get really aggravated with us for coming in with every new rainfall and my understanding is that the worst of the rain season hasn't even hit yet! 

I've been looking to see what rights I have as a tenant in this situation and I'm slightly confused. I plan on calling my community legal services to get some assistance in the next step, but I had wanted to post on here and see what others have to say. What can and should I do? I've been reading about withholding rent and using it to potentially pay for the repairs to the structure but I'm a little confused about when that part happens. Our rent is due today so would that mean I have to pay today and then wait another 30 days (and who knows how many rainfalls) before I can actually do something about this?

The last conversation I had with maintenance about the flooding was more along the lines of "we are getting ready to tear this building down" rather than "we've heard back from a couple contractors and are getting ready to remediate the issue" so it doesn't sound like there are any solutions looming on the horizon. 

Help, what can we do? I don't like living this way! This is actually worse than the substandard housing that I had grown accustomed to while living in Alaska!

Your not being realistic about your situation. If you withhold rent you will face eviction regardless of your situation. What can you do. MOVE. No one is holding you hostage are they. You are wasting time living in unacceptable conditions expecting others to solve your problems for you.

When did you give notice to your landlord to move. Do not say you can not afford to move. That is not an acceptable excuse for subjecting your family to this situation. Move.

Does it sound like I lack compassion. Yes, probably due to the fact that you are the one in control of your life not your landlord.

Promotion
Turo
Turo car sharing
Start a small business on Turo
Join thousands of entrepreneurs who have started successful car sharing businesses on Turo.
Learn more

The goal should be to shake hands, part ways,  and wish each other well.

Talk to the property manager and come to a reasonable solution to move prior to the lease ending without penalties under the circumstances presented here.   

Moving out without an agreement will come back to bite you and the management not allowing you to move out will probably come back to bite them.   

An amicable win win solution sounds like the best bet for all parties.  

This is a great story for why tenants should get Renter's Insurance.

If you are going to withhold rent you have to go to your local court and set up an escrow account with them. You still pay the rent-  just into the escrow account and not to the landlord. The landlord gets the money after the repairs are completed.

If you simply withhold rent you will be violating your lease, subject to late fees and eviction proceedings. If you're going to do it, do it right.

I feel for you. Sounds like you have some crappy property management. Maybe do yourself a favor and try and figure out why water doesn't drain properly from your porch. It could be as simple as some debris clogging the downspouts. Might be worth checking out.

Originally posted by @Natalia Collini :

Two weeks ago my ground level apartment flooded due to heavy rainfall. I figured this was coming. Every time it rains hard the water does not drain properly into the two drains off my porch and my porch disappears under water, then the water starts coming in under the sliding door. Then two weeks ago it more than came in. It was halfway into the living room and it seeped in to the bedroom under through the outer walls as well. Our king size foam mattress soaked up all that water and got ruined. We contacted the property managers, they sent someone out to clean the carpets and we got an industrial fan for two days to dry out the carpet. They told us they would call a contractor to figure out the problem, but warned us that it would take time because they have to get bids in. They gave us a couple sandbags to set outside our door. We bought ourselves a new mattress (and a waterproof mattress cover to put on like a boat for future protection.)

On Sunday it rained and flooded again. Both bedroom and living room wet. The sandbags did absolutely nothing. The next day was Memorial Day so the best the maintenance staff could do was bring in a little shop vac to try and get out some of the water and there was a discussion of trying to shore up the outside to keep this from happening again. Last night, it rained again and even more water came in than did on Sunday. It hadn't even finished drying yet! My apartment is starting to smell like mildew and my kids are playing in this damp living room space. The property management team is starting to get really aggravated with us for coming in with every new rainfall and my understanding is that the worst of the rain season hasn't even hit yet! 

I've been looking to see what rights I have as a tenant in this situation and I'm slightly confused. I plan on calling my community legal services to get some assistance in the next step, but I had wanted to post on here and see what others have to say. What can and should I do? I've been reading about withholding rent and using it to potentially pay for the repairs to the structure but I'm a little confused about when that part happens. Our rent is due today so would that mean I have to pay today and then wait another 30 days (and who knows how many rainfalls) before I can actually do something about this?

The last conversation I had with maintenance about the flooding was more along the lines of "we are getting ready to tear this building down" rather than "we've heard back from a couple contractors and are getting ready to remediate the issue" so it doesn't sound like there are any solutions looming on the horizon. 

Help, what can we do? I don't like living this way! This is actually worse than the substandard housing that I had grown accustomed to while living in Alaska!

 You are on a website with lots of landlords and very little tenants. Keep this in mind when asking your question ;) I think some of the early answers reflect this..

Ask the landlord or property manager to break the lease due to you having to live in these conditions. If they won't let you then you need to threaten to sue. Look into your state tenant laws and see what florida has in them about habitable conditions. But as what others have said, with-holding rent will only hurt you. If you do withhold rent expect an eviction which then you would have to fight in court. You should win but you still have to explain that if it goes on your record.

You need to look up the landlord-tenant laws for where you live.  Contact the local legal aid or fair housing dept if there is one.

But, it sounds like the place isn't habitable.  And there are usually specific remedies for when a unit isn't habitable.  Usually, you have to follow a particular procedure to be able to withhold rent.

Probably the easiest and cheapest thing to do, would be to just sue the landlord in small claims court.  You don't need a lawyer, and you don't have to understand the law, or be correct in everything you ask for. So, you can use it as a kind of broad sweep, and just ask for the moon, and ask the judge to decide what is fair.

So, include the amount of daily rent for any and all days you had to live in a wet house, and I'd also ask for the cost of replacing all of your things.  If they say you should have had insurance, I'd say that it was not an accident, that they knew of the problem and didn't fix it, and that it is not reasonable to rely on tenants having renter's insurance for damage due to their negilgence, which can mean a deductible and higher rates if you file a claim.

At any rate, that's what I'd do.  The landlord may then start talking about letting you out of your lease.  If he does that, I'd also ask for some moving money or at least my full deposit back in cash, before I dropped the suit.

IIRC (currently a renter myself) Florida law (or at least my lease) says something along the lines that I can break the lease if there are damages/ conditions that make the area inhabitable.

Sounds like you have those conditions. Re-read your lease.

If the unit is unsafe and/or uninhabitable, then you can break the lease in Florida. Not entirely sure what uninhabitable pertains to so you need to check that.

HOWEVER, you need to look up the exact notices that you must give. Lots of stuff like this in FL at least need to be a letter by certified mail. Follow the letter of the law and you'll be safe. Make it up as you go, you'll get your *** sued.

And make sure you have lots of photographs.

Personally though, you want to be moving. If the carpets need drying out, then the water is in the drywall, and you don't dry drywall out, you cut it out. 

I appreciate all your responses. And @Andrey Y. I realize this. I'm a newbie investor myself which was why I was interested in hearing the landlord perspective on the situation rather than the tenants. 

Thank you all VERY much for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I am now armed with information and ideas that I can take action on. 

I had a similar situation in an apartment in Orlando. Unfortunately there was very little we could do. We made several complaints and brought up some housing laws to the office. They began to get nervous and offered us a move out without cleaning (or fees). However, this was near the end of the lease. Put together a letter in writing about the distress it is causing, etc. Eventually it can come down to safe and habitable living conditions.

Another problem you might run into is that the repairs have to be tested by another rain storm. My apartment thought they had fixed the problem but had to try a few different things after each storm. I hope it gets better!

Promotion
PropStream
Web + D4D Mobile App for you & the team!
Trusted Provider of Real Estate Data, Marketing, Skip Tracing & A
#1 Real Estate Software for Investors, Agents & Brokers to find leads and close deals nationwide.
7 Day Free Trial!

I hate hearing these stories. The property owner and manager should be ashamed.

Regardless, anything you discuss with the PM team and/or owner should be in writing. Even if you have a verbal conversation follow it up with an email summarizing the conversation. Keep a log with photos of the days of rain and the outcome. It is not healthy to live in the conditions you have described. Nor is it lawful for the owner to force you to stay and pay. There are clauses within your lease that should support your moving out with proper notice. No owner wants to deal with a tenant in court in this situation. 

If and when you end up in court these documents should back up what you have been through. Fair is fair, I am a landlord/owner/investor and would never make a tenant go through this.