What are your rights as a renter if your home gets flooded?

Tenant waits for apartment repairs

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - If you are a renter, you have rights when your home is flooded and your belongings are damaged.

Some of last week’s rain storm flooded a Richmond woman’s apartment. While Carriage Club apartments did move quickly by putting the tenant in a new unit, she says they’re dragging their feet on compensating her and making permanent repairs.

Never stop paying rent even if you feel your landlord owes you a rent reduction or compensation. NBC12′s Diane Walker reached out to Carriage Club’s property management company in Alexandria, Virginia about Brya Savery’s desire to be compensated for the damage to her stuff. The Carriage Club apartments did not comment on the compensation but says residents’ safety is their top concern.

A recent hard rain came with consequences.

"The water level - you can see where at the door how far up it was. Most of the time it’ll reach the door but it doesn’t come in. But this time it was full-out complete flood inside of my house. My fiance had already started putting towels and even our own clothes to try and stop the water from pouring into the house, but that didn’t stop it. It got all the way into our bedroom,” Savery said.

Carriage Club apartments pulled up carpet and positioned a fan to dry things out, but Savery says she still suffered a loss and repairs should have been made to correct the problem so she wouldn’t have to turn a patio pump on and off when it rains.

“Five days it was sitting in mildew and with the fan blowing, it makes my whole house smell like mildew and we’re just breathing it in. Our mattress it had mildew on it. We can’t sleep on it. Right now, we just sleep on our sofas right now, until we can get another mattress," Savery said.

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society says tenants have three options when they feel the landlord isn’t holding up their part of the lease agreement. Constructive eviction is the riskiest option. That’s when the tenant notifies the landlord that they’re moving out and they move. Moving before the lease ends opens the tenant up to possibly being sued.

The second option is to give the landlord a 21 to 30 day written notice. If repairs aren’t made in a reasonable amount of time, notify the landlord in writing that you plan to move in 30 days.

The safest option is to pay your rent to the court. After giving the landlord notice, if they don’t correct the problem, file a tenant’s assertion in general district court and make your payments there. A judge can settle any dispute or end the stalemate.

NBC12′s Diane Walker received an email from the Carriage Club’s management company. It says they are still investigating and are happy to talk after it’s completed. It goes on to say they would not knowingly move anyone into a situation that puts them at risk.

In the meantime, a judge may have to settle Savery’s complaint regarding compensation.

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