RLC in the Media: What to do after storm damage, and dealing with insurance companies and landlords

RLC's Melanie Bradfield spoke to SBS's 'The Feed' about what to do if your own home’s been damaged or flooded, whether you’re a tenant or a home owner.

By Ben Winsor. Published by SBS's The Feed, 28 March 2017.

Whether your own home’s been damaged or flooded, or you’re a tenant or a landlord, or if a tree’s fallen on your car, or your boss is giving you hell for not making it in to work – here’s our guide to dealing with storm damage.

Your tenancy rights

If your rented property is leaking, has been damaged or is totally unlivable, then you should be aware of your legal rights.

“A landlord has a general duty to maintain the property in a reasonable state of repair. The tenant has a general duty to inform the landlord when there is a repair or maintenance issue,” Melanie Bradfield, Tenants Advocate from the Redfern Legal Centre told The Feed.

Bradfield said it was important to inform your landlord as soon as possible if there’s storm damage; otherwise you could be liable if things gets worse.

If your landlord has insurance for the property though, you may be covered under it. While it’s unlikely their insurance will cover damage to personal property, most insurance policies will cover emergency tenant accommodation – so it’s definitely worth asking about. If there’s severe damage their policy may cover the costs of alternate accommodation for you while repairs are underway.

If your landlord doesn’t have insurance, you might still have some rights. You’re entitled to negotiate a lower rent if the damage or repair-work is impacting your use of the property, and your landlord might have to forego some rent if you have to live elsewhere while repairs are made.

If the damage is so bad that the place is uninhabitable, then you can speak with your landlord and end your lease – you don’t have to keep paying rent.

Laws in every state are different, so Google your tenancy union for advice.

You will almost always have an obligation to mitigate damage as well. That might mean making sure the windows are shut or there’s a bucket or tarp in place to catch a leak – whatever the situation, you should make reasonable efforts to prevent further damage occurring.

Full original article available at sbs.com.au