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Protecting your home: Handling water damage in your apartment

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Water leak: What do to in an emergency

Whether it's dripping from the ceiling, seeping in from the wall or getting in through the door, if water gets into your apartment or house, you need to act quickly to limit the damage. The first order of business is to stop the water flood if possible. Turn off the water tap. If it is not clear where the water is coming from, the main water faucet should be shut off. The power supply should also be shut off immediately, as water can be life-threatening when combined with electricity. In addition, the water that has entered should be removed promptly and thoroughly, for example with rags or a wet vacuum. If the water is particularly high, contact the fire department, which has the proper equipment to pump out large amounts of water. Move all household items to safety, have emergency repairs made, and document the damage in detail before reporting it to the insurance company.

Homeowner's insurance

Homeowner's insurance policies kick in whenever tap water has leaked "in violation" of the policy's provisions. This is the case, for example, with tap water damage caused by a burst pipe; water damage caused by heaters, air conditioners, heat pumps, defective sprinkler systems and washing or dishwashing machines also falls under this. In this case, the insurance company will pay an amount equal to the replacement value of the damaged items. However, it will not pay if the damage was caused by rising groundwater, leaking cleaning water or a backwater within the sewer system. The homeowners insurance policy comes into play when the apartment or house itself has suffered damage. It serves to cover the costs of repairs and repairs, but does not cover so-called natural hazard damage caused by extreme weather or other natural events. There are special natural hazard insurance policies for this purpose.

If the tenant is proven to have acted with negligence, he must bear the costs of damage in himself

If your tenant causes water damage: Are you liable?

Many insurance companies handle such cases: A tenant has caused water damage, and it must be clarified who bears the costs for this. In principle, the party that caused the damage must pay for the damage repair. Tenants have a so-called duty of care and must regularly check their household appliances to ensure that they are sufficiently safe. If, for example, water damage is caused by the washing machine, for example via a defective washing machine hose, the tenant is responsible for the consequences. The tenant has no household insurance? In this case it is possible that he has to bear the costs completely himself. This is also the case if there is household insurance, but the tenant has been proven to have acted intentionally or with negligence, for example, if water damage was caused by an open window.

If your neighbor causes water damage

If water damage occurs at the hands of a neighbor and damage occurs in another apartment, landlords can handle this through the building insurance. This is done independently of claims for damages against the person who caused the damage. The damaged person also has the right to rent reduction. However, he/she cannot assert a claim for damages against the landlord unless the latter can be proven to have acted intentionally or negligently. Damages can only be claimed against the causer, the tenant who caused the damage. This is paid either by his liability insurance or, if he does not have such insurance, by himself.

Frequently asked questions

Written by:

Stefanie Aust, Guest Writer

Stefanie loves to put complex topics from the real estate world into understandable and inspiring words. Whether it's about the right financing, choosing the right type of flat, or a successful property search: Stefanie is happy to inform you.

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