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Hurricane Sandy: What to Do if Your Apartment Floods

As Hurricane Sandy batters the east coast, property damage becomes an increasingly important point of discussion.

What happens if your property suffers structural or water damage as the result of Hurricane Sandy?

We'll address this question from two angles: The homeowner and the renter.

Strong hurricanes are not too common along the Northeastern Seaboard. But that doesn't mean that they're nonexistent. As of Monday morning, Hurricane Sandy was being declared a Category 1 hurricane moving at 18 mph, with winds at 75 mph, according to The Associated Press.

The storm is expected to collide with a winter storm as well, potentially bringing ice and snow across the region.

President Obama has already declared an emergency in Massachusetts, freeing up federal relief funds.

There are many major concerns coming with this storm. For homeowners and renters, water damage and flooding will be the main concern, although the winds could cause damage to the outside of a structure.

For those of you who are renting property, you may not be the one faced with the burden of making repairs if there are issues from the storm. In Massachusetts, your landlord will be obligated to make the repairs.

For one, the landlord is bound by the warranty of habitability. This means that he has the duty to keep the property in habitable condition, free from any conditions that could endanger or impair your health, safety or well-being.

If you make a written complaint to your landlord about a flood in your apartment, he then has the obligation to fix the issue.

If he doesn't remedy the situation, you can withhold your rent, deduct the cost of repairs from your rent payment (this is called "repair and deduct"), or even break your lease and move out.

Of course, if you're dealing with flood damage from the current storm, do be patient with your landlord. This storm is somewhat of an emergency situation and courts will be somewhat more lenient, since there may be a clause in your lease agreement for "acts of nature."

In our next post, we'll give some guidance to homeowners, in light of Hurricane Sandy's devastation.

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