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Who is Responsible for Water Damage in a Commercial Property?

Severe water damage raises a lot of questions to a commercial property owner. The first being, “am I responsible for this?” and the second one likely being, “how much is this going to cost me?”

The answer to both of these questions is, “it depends.” Today we will discuss which parties are responsible for water damage to commercial and leased properties.

Are Tenants Responsible for Water Damage?

In general, tenants or individuals signed on a property’s lease agreement are only responsible for any water damage that is caused by their actions or from regular use of the property.

This means that if a tenant’s favorite appliance breaks and causes leaks throughout the unit, then the damage will be the tenant or renter’s responsibility.

However, if the water leak is caused by faulty plumbing, weather, or natural disaster, then it will be the responsibility of the property owner to take care of it. It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure water damage repairs happen in a reasonable amount of time so that it doesn’t impact the required suitable living conditions for renters and tenants.

Tenant Negligence

If a tenant is negligent in sharing information about any water damage in the property to the landlord, that is where things start to change. 

Property owners can only fix the problems that they know about, so it is a major problem if a tenant allows water leaks and faulty plumbing to continue to destroy the property. 

You may have legal grounds to take action against a tenant if they do not report a water leak or are negligent about water damage to your commercial property.

Commercial landlord insurance

Most commercial landowners invest in commercial landlord insurance. While these policies are usually pretty expensive, they cover most of your assets, including your physical property and tools/equipment you use to do business.

Commercial property insurance can help protect your physical assets from natural disasters, storms, fire, theft, and more. It’s vital to invest in insurance that protects you from unfortunate situations that can lead to water damage. At least with insurance, you won’t pay water damage restoration expenses entirely out-of-pocket.

Commercial Landlord Responsibilities

Landlords have a responsibility to their renters and tenants to keep the property in livable and habitable condition. It’s a great practice to have a yearly inspection done to each of your properties as a “check-up” on their health in terms of any maintenance work that is required.

If you’re unsure how to check for water damage, check out our water damage checklist for a great foundation of where to begin, or our blog on water damage categories to get familiar with what water damage looks like. 

As a property owner, you are responsible for the following:

  1. Ensuring the property is in a working and inhabitable condition.
  2. Repairing any property damage within a reasonable time frame.
  3. Ensuring plumbing, drainage, and other maintenance is in working order before signing the property over to the tenant.

How Long Does a Landlord Have to Fix Water Damage?

Legally, a landlord must make every attempt to repair commercial water damage as soon as they are notified of the damage. While being proactive against potential water leaks and water damage is best, being quick to resolve new damage with long term fixes will save you the most money in the long run.

Commercial Water Damage Restoration

Water damage to any commercial property can become expensive quickly. At U&S Companies, we are experts in water damage restoration and can give you an honest estimate of what it will cost to repair your property. 

Our construction team will work with you to plan the scope of the project and your timeline to completion. Give us a call today if you’re interested in having the experts take a look at any damage to your property.

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