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Old 10-02-2019, 07:26 PM
 
Location: Durham
1,747 posts, read 2,234,626 times
Reputation: 1795

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Moderators, please feel free to move this if another page is better for it.

A coworker's apartment was flooded a few days ago when a contractor hit a water line in the apartment above theirs. Best I'm getting from him is that the landlord put them up in another apartment short term but is forcing them to leave it shortly because another tenant is scheduled to move in. Management hasn't offered to put them up in a motel and tells them they don't owe them anything.

My understanding is that they are legally obligated to provide them short term shelter until their place is restored. They are telling him that since a contractor did the damage, they have no responsibility. The contractor says they hired a sub who is responsible. I smell a huge rat here, everyone passing the buck.

Furthermore; their renter's insurance is only offering a pittance on clothing & furnishings. They are probably on firm legal ground if the policy specifies actual cash value of items. I told him this, as I used to work in insurance, though not property/casualty.

My opinion is that the landlord owes it to them to provide them shelter at no cost to them while their apartment is being restored. Also that the contractor doing the damage owes them the difference between what their insurance will cover and replacement costs.

He called WRAL news today. They told him to e mail them and that it would take 10-20 days to respond to him. Not much help in the short term. I wonder about NC Attorney General's office.

Has anyone dealt with a similar situation in recent times? I know I used to see apartment issues on the news over the years.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 10-03-2019, 05:59 AM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
2,296 posts, read 3,487,306 times
Reputation: 3002
Asking the general Internet for legal opinions is a good way to get general anecdotes, but your renter friend may wish to contact an actual lawyer to find out what is the best steps to take.
Given the above, (insert standard -/I'm not a lawyer/- phrase here), some suggestions are:

It's all about the contracts. Who has something in writing with whom. If it's in writing, then you MUST read it to know what's covered, what's not, and what to do about it:

1) The renter has a contract with their insurance to cover personal property. They should read this contract (the policy) to find out what is covered based on these circumstances, and if compensation is based on "current" value (IE: lose of value due to being old and worn, etc.) or "replacement" value, (IE: the insurance reimburses for similar, new items). For property that was damaged, the renter files a claim with their insurance. Then that insurance company will file a claim against the landlord and against the contractor. If those claims are successful, then the insurance would refund back to the renter, the renter's deductible.

2) The contractor has no connection (obligation) to the renter, only to the landlord. The contractor is operating as an agent for the landlord when the contractor created damage, because (presumably) they both had a contract.

3) The renter has a contract (the lease) with the landlord. It may or may not spell out what happens in such emergency situations. Regardless of what is in the lease, because it IS a contract, there will also be obligations created by law. Those obligations vary by jurisdiction, but can usually be pretty easy to find on-line. IE: There are laws that will superseded the lease on how security deposits are returned. This is where you should investigate the legally defined mandatory-minimums about providing temporary housing, a moving firm hired to do the work, how long it can last, etc.

Keep in mind it's pretty common for (bad) landlords to try to say they have way more power than they do, and what is in the lease is the final word, ignoring the parts that might be superseded by laws.

Have your friend document all communication, and take a LOT of photos.
However, from a lease that I just read that I think is the "standard NC lease", the landlord has the choice to provide temporary housing OR terminate the lease and provide a pro-rated refund of rent already paid.
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Old 10-03-2019, 06:14 AM
 
Location: under the beautiful Carolina blue
17,359 posts, read 26,679,748 times
Reputation: 13334
The contractor's relationship with the LL does not absolve them of liability, which is why he's trying to pass the buck to his sub contractor. If I hire a tree trimming company and they drop a tree on my neighbor's house, their relationship with me doesn't mean they aren't negligent and liable to whoever they committed their negligent act on.


Your friend's lease rules the day here. He or someone who can understand it should read that document and act accordingly. Also missing here is who actually did hire the contractor. Did they make sure the contractor was insured? If the LL hired the contractor and the contractor is not cooperative I would call the LL and ask for the contractor's insurance information. Contractor, sub contractor, that's for the insurer to sort out and the contractor will have to answer to their insurer. But - again - that all takes time. If the unit is uninhabitable, that's another story and your friend may need to go to whoever enforces rental laws in NC. The CD real estate forum has a renting sub forum and I believe every state's rental laws are posted in a sticky.
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Old 10-03-2019, 09:17 AM
 
Location: Raleigh NC
10,625 posts, read 7,763,837 times
Reputation: 9084
the co-worker should read their lease, and see what it says.

they can also contact one of the numerous "legal aid" outfits that specialize in renter/landlord disputes helping the renter.
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Old 10-03-2019, 09:38 AM
 
Location: Fuquay Varina
4,919 posts, read 6,903,173 times
Reputation: 12480
I sort of had that happen to me but probably a smaller scale because I was home and caught the flooding right away. I had just moved in that day into a brand new apartment building. I was on the 1st floor. Someone had moved a few days earlier into the 3rd floor apartment. They were celebrating and passed out with the water running. By the time it got to me on the 1st floor, the 2nd floor was flooded. I was able to catch most of the water leaking into my apartment. I also had water coming out of the light fixtures and down the walls that couldn't be caught with a bucket.


The apartment management offered me a hotel that night and moved me into a different apartment as soon as it was cleaned up and ready. They went after the renters insurance on the 3rd floor renter and charged them the costs of moving me as well as the apartment building damages.


The contractor should have insurance that covers this.
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Old 10-03-2019, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Holly Springs, NC
1,415 posts, read 806,923 times
Reputation: 2177
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoBromhal View Post
the co-worker should read their lease, and see what it says.

they can also contact one of the numerous "legal aid" outfits that specialize in renter/landlord disputes helping the renter.
Literally the only valid answer here.

With respect to the replacement value of belongings - in the grand scheme of things, not really the issue here. They chose the insurance policy they chose, most likely to save a buck. I certainly would not be worrying about this issue when I don't know where I'm going to hang my hat at night.
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Old 10-27-2019, 02:12 PM
 
Location: Durham
1,747 posts, read 2,234,626 times
Reputation: 1795
They actually had a decent deal with their renters insurance. He said they were fairly generous with what they allowed for property and helped some with relocation expenses. The contractor who did the damages has also agreed that help out.

All in all, their landlord has been the biggest villain. A real shame but they are surviving & found a more convenient place to live.
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Old 10-27-2019, 04:17 PM
 
Location: Fuquay Varina
4,919 posts, read 6,903,173 times
Reputation: 12480
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmellc View Post
They actually had a decent deal with their renters insurance. He said they were fairly generous with what they allowed for property and helped some with relocation expenses. The contractor who did the damages has also agreed that help out.

All in all, their landlord has been the biggest villain. A real shame but they are surviving & found a more convenient place to live.
It's all about the money, but I am glad it worked out for your friend!
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