Who is responsible to cover flood damage in a rental?

UPDATED: Sep 8, 2012

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Who is responsible to cover flood damage in a rental?

We rent a home and carry renter’s insurance. The sump pump failed and basement flooded causing water damage to the finished basement and a large portion of our furniture and personal belongings. My renter’s insurance does not have flood coverage but the landlord’s (homeowner) does have it. Who is responsible for covering damages to the property, and additionally, is the landlord’s insurance responsible for our damaged belongings?

Asked on September 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The landlord is responsible for all damage to the rental premises (the property) unless it was caused by something the tenants did--for example, if you had unplugged the sump pump, blocked drainage, left basement windows open, etc., and that caused or materially contributed to the flooding, you could be liable.

The landlord would only be liable for the damage to the tenant's belongings if he or she caused it or was at fault in some way. If there was a sump pump, then it is unlikely that the landlord was at fault--he or she did what he or she is supposed to do to prevent or ameliorate flooding, by having a sump pump--unless you can show that the landlord was aware that the pump was broken, damaged, defective, etc. and, knowing that, still failed to repair or replace it.

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