Allpar Forums banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Vaguely badass...
Joined
·
43,887 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Last Wednesday night and Thursday morning (4/17-4/18) brought rain to our area. Lots of rain. I mean LOTS of rain.

My eldest awoke around 3 am, put his feet on the basement floor and found himself standing in 2 inches of water. I came down and the day began - step one was to get all the electronics in the basement powered off and unplugged, then brought the PCs upstairs. Unplugged the washer and dryer as well, and made sure the sump pump was working. By the time we accomplished all that, the water had risen to 4 inches. A good amount was coming in from the basement window, but the bulk of it was coming up the sewer drains and basement toilet.

By the time the rain finally subsided - we received about 6-8 inches of rain in 3 hours - the water/sewage level in the basement crested at about 2 FEET - this was around noon, I'd guess.

By 6pm, we were back down to about 2 inches, and much of that was removed after I lifted the lid off the sump pump hole. There was enough dirt and sediment and fecal matter that it almost looked like I had carpeting.

Renters insurance called me back the next day to let me know that my policy does NOT cover damage caused by a sewer backup or flooding due to excessive rainfall inundating the storm & sanitary sewers. We're still arguing about that - if a pipe burst in the house and caused the problem, it would be covered.

Landlady told us that she wasn't quite sure what her exposure was here - this was new to her to deal with - and that she would contact her insurance and lawyers and get back to us...on Monday. She tried to tell me wife that WE were responsible for what's INSIDE the house, and she was responsible for what's OUTSIDE the house - which is VERY incorrect. The homeowners' associate is responsible for the exterior of the homes, the homeowner is responsible for the interior, and I as the renter am responsible for my belongings and to keep the interior in good order. Hopefully she'll get a clue and we'll know more later today - as it sits now we have no operating furnace, no operating hot water heater, ad no operating washer/dryer.

My father and I spent Thursday pumping out water and starting the clean-up, we continued Friday after work, then all day Saturday, and then again all day yesterday after church. My in-laws came by and loaded out at least 12 33-gallon bags of clothes to be washed. Yesterday my kids were helping as we disassembled 2 dressers, 2 desks, and their bedframes - we still have to haul out the mattresses and other bits and pieces - already hauled out stuff that was damaged beyond saving - and we pulled out of boxes stored in the understairs closet where there was more gunk and water and sewage waiting for us.

The bathroom is pretty well cleaned up - my father spend a good 2 hours on it - it's likely the drywall in there will need to be replaced. Not sure about the paneling in the basement proper - it's hard to even see a waterline on it. We'll be back in after work today to finish hauling out more trash and then getting everything else that's left out of the laundry room/sump pump area.

I'm tired.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
31,984 Posts
I don't envy you. I had a small sewer backup years ago, a graywater puddle in a largely empty basement. It was still 5 hours of work.

Don't let the landlady off the hook. All that you are responsible for is your possessions. And you might have recourse against her, certainly against her insurance company.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
822 Posts
Years ago I owned a townhouse that was rented out and got flooded (twice). I had to pay for all the repairs, even though in one instance the tenant had actually caused the flooding. I hope you get your landlady to pay: it's her responsibility!
I feel for you: these events are terrible. Good luck and God bless!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
21,365 Posts
I know how you must have felt walking down those basement steps and seeing the flooded floor.
This happened to me about a month ago. The tree roots out front had attacked and clogged the sewer pipe from the house to the street.
While the contractor was replacing the sewer pipe, the water supply pipe to the house also ruptured. They were old and I had to have another different service come in and replace that pipe. All together it cost about $9000 which hurt a bit. The fire dept. no longer pumps out basements and insurance didn't cover it, but it had to be done.
My front lawn looks like a freshly dug grave this spring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,476 Posts
Good luck, the landlady owns the place, it's her responsibility, especially since it was at not fault of anything you did. Just glad no one got hurt and seems like for the most part, your possessions are in tact. Be happy you got away with that much.
 

·
Radioactive
Joined
·
5,347 Posts
I have been on both the landlord and tenant side of that conversation.

All depends on your (and her) policy wording.

Generally, sewer backup is specifically excluded unless you have rider including it. Here in Manitoba, you can only add that rider at the time of renewal (i.e. you cannot call your broker to add it when the town up river starts to flood!)
 

·
Active Jeeper
Joined
·
31,129 Posts
Hated to read that.
The main thing to watch for now is mold. If the walls are drywall, they need to be removed to 2' above the water line, as mold will be growing inside the walls within hours. The framing can be left, but requires a solution of bleach to be sprayed on all surfaces.
Mold is deadly, so don't cut corners.
You might be able to get the health department to inspect and force the landlord to correct any issue that could make the house inhabitable.
Research on line first, as you don't want to get evicted in the event the situation drags out legally while repairs are not performed and leaves you homeless.
I would certainly withhold rent until the situation is resolved. The basement is inhabitable, until properly repaired.
Good Luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
628 Posts
Mold issue can be really bad, some good advice given. The quicker that is addressed, the better.

Never had a flood problem personally, but have helped family/friends in similar situations. It's a lotta work.

Wish you luck with the insurance issue and that the repairs go quickly.
 

·
Vaguely badass...
Joined
·
43,887 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Landlady states that "water removal and our possessions are our responsibility, the walls and appliances are hers." She's getting an inspection scheduled; hopefully really soon - but the damage is so widespread around Chicagoland it might take a day or two.

Bulk of the water was out Thursday night. 90% of our stuff is out - rest should be out tonight.

We were using plenty of bleach when cleaning up the bathroom and the floors - you'd be hard-pressed to tell that anything happened in the bathroom - good thing I took pictures. But the lower drywall int he bathroom is still soft - I'm sure it'll have to get replaced.

Thanks for all the support. The bigger issue now is paying for the place to stay while this gets resolved - gas stations jacked up to $3.999 right after the flood, and most hotels/motels are also jacked up - rooms that would normally go for $80 are going for $120 and up.
 

·
Vaguely badass...
Joined
·
43,887 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Furnace has been cleaned, fried control board replaced, and is back in operation.
Water heater has been cleaned and is back in operation.
Dryer has been cleaned and is back in operation.
Washer has been cleaned, but it cannot drain properly. Utility sink drains to same location and is also very slow to drain. All the PVC pipe used were glued together, so they'll likely have to cut the PVC pipe, clear whatever is clogging the drain, and then replace the pipe.

The mold/mildew is of course still a concern, and we'll be watching that closely. All those surfaces were heavily cleaned with bleach - but still - you never know.

Looks like the county finally got their required paperwork in for emergency declaration, so we should be able to apply for the FEMA assistance shortly.

Homeowners' Association meeting is tonight - both the landlady and I will be there, and we'll see what's up there.

Checked out of the hotel this morning...just shy of $800 for 6 nights.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
31,984 Posts
Hope you had loss-of-household coverage insurance. We're covered to $15,000 worth of hotel time, I believe.
 

·
Active Jeeper
Joined
·
31,129 Posts
If the drywall was not replaced, you likely have black mold already starting and that posses a serious health risk.
In CA we (landlords and contractors) are required to have any water damage certified by a licensed hygienist, as safe to re-occupy.
There are specific machines and testing for identifying airborne molds and viruses that indicate the presence of mold and bacteria.
If the landlord plays ignorant, it's worth your family's health to test it on your dime.
If mold is found you can have the landlord re-imburse you.
Since the water included sewage, you can almost be guaranteed that infectious bacteria is present, regardless of any surface treatment with bleach, that water was also inside the walls and walls need to be removed to 24" above the high water mark.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bob Lincoln

·
Vaguely badass...
Joined
·
43,887 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Bob Lincoln said:
Hope you had loss-of-household coverage insurance. We're covered to $15,000 worth of hotel time, I believe.
Since the issue of flooding and sewer-backup was caused by heavy rains inundating the storm and sanitary sewers outside of the home, my renters' insurance is not covering any of it. As far as they are concerned, that's an issue for the city/county to deal with.

If it was a pipe that had burst INSIDE the home, then it would be covered, and a hotel stay up to $4K would be included.

MoparNorm said:
If the drywall was not replaced, you likely have black mold already starting and that posses a serious health risk.
In CA we (landlords and contractors) are required to have any water damage certified by a licensed hygienist, as safe to re-occupy.
There are specific machines and testing for identifying airborne molds and viruses that indicate the presence of mold and bacteria.
If the landlord plays ignorant, it's worth your family's health to test it on your dime.
If mold is found you can have the landlord re-imburse you.
Since the water included sewage, you can almost be guaranteed that infectious bacteria is present, regardless of any surface treatment with bleach, that water was also inside the walls and walls need to be removed to 24" above the high water mark.
I was very clear with the landlord that the drywall and mold/mildew was my primary concern above all. We will be testing on our dime - since my boys usually live down there, it's pretty important to us.

2 feet above the water line is 4 feet - at that point, you may as well replace the entire wall - unless you were smart and put up the drywall sideways to begin with.

Thanks for all the input.
 

·
DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
Joined
·
8,808 Posts
First, I had to get lawyer involved in a dispute with a landlord, do everything in writing, do everything certified mail. It's a PITA, but it's worth it.

Second, be sure to find any sort of landlord/tenant laws, in my state they're actually written in plain English, and review them. Cite chapter and verse if you have to.

Third, in my state, if a property is uninhabitable, the tenant can find lodging elsewhere and remove the days the property is uninhabitable from one's rent, generally to the tune of monthlyrent/30*numberofdays. My problem was sewage that would back up, my guess is the state of the basement would render the house uninhabitable. The downside is that you need to actually uninhabit it, I stayed with my then-girlfriend-now-wife. I would expect similar laws in your state.
 

·
Active Jeeper
Joined
·
31,129 Posts
Stratuscaster said:
.2 feet above the water line is 4 feet - at that point, you may as well replace the entire wall - unless you were smart and put up the drywall sideways to begin with.Thanks for all the input.
Residential drywall is normally installed horizontally, so 4' is the perfect break point, based upon your earlier comment of 2' deep water.
;)

Also, since hygienist normally recommend 2' above the water line, that first 4' should be covered in any settlement re-embursement.
Good luck!
 

·
Vaguely badass...
Joined
·
43,887 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
I'm mot sure just how it was installed. We'll see.

Went to the Homeowners' Association Board of Directors meeting last night, where they "graciously" allotted some time for residents to bring forth issues. To my surprise, there were all of 6 residents there - two had issues unrelated to the recent rain/flood, and then there were my wife and I, our landlady, and our neighbor.

The board started out with "everyone took at least 2 inches of water" - and that bothered us a bit, because they seemed to not believe that our neighbor took about 18 inches of water/sewage and we took 2 feet. It took a while to get them to comprehend the problem - mostly because they kept interrupting us when we were explaining what had happened. Our landlady backed us up and also noted that the way the outdoor gutters and drainage is set up, it results in flooding between my front door and that of the next building - and also pushes the dirt around our basement window so the water can just pour right in. (A lot of that information was provided by my own kids, who spent time watching how the rainwater was flowing around the house and how the storm sewers weren't draining because of debris. See, kids DO pay attention. ;) ) Again, they seemed amazed by all this - which is troubling at best. Two reps from the management company were also there, and they spent a lot of time "clarifying their role". I pointed to a newsletter I received a couple months ago that stated "inside the four walls of the home is the homeowner's responsibility, and outside of those walls is the management/HOA responsibility. None of the issues that caused the damage to my home were from anything inside the walls - it was all forced in from outside. Once we finally were able to get everything explained, we provided the board and management with a detailed list of the things we expected them to go over and investigate.

Spoke with the landlady at length and we all agreed - the drywall in the bathroom and laundry room will HAVE to get replaced - so we're working on a plan to tackle that. She also stated that we'll only be paying half the normal amount for rent to offset the costs for the days we couldn't stay there, so that was good to hear.

Looks like the pilot went out on the water heater - this morning's shower was quite brisk to say the least. Tried getting it lit again - no go in the short time I spent on it. Just one more thing to tackle.
 

·
Virginia Gentleman
Joined
·
14,677 Posts
Sorry to hear of your flooding issues Strat.

My parents suffered a similar flooding type issue about a year ago. Heavy rains hit our area (Mom is only 20 minutes away). Their home has finished basement with a sump pump and is designed to allow water to flow around the basement and be pumped out to the ditch. Unfortunately, that day the pump simply could not keep up with the water flow. The ended up with 12" water in the basement. Would have been worse if the pump failed.

Most of the furniture and electronics were ruined including over 300 CD's/DVD's. The paneling was shot and all the doors were warped. The good news is they had purchased a "flood" rider that covered sewage/drain water backup. Good thing too. The damages added up to somewhere around $20K. That included replacing all the paneling with drywall, new carpeting, new doors, new washer/dryer and water heater. The only thing not covered was the furniture. When they removed the paneling they found a considerable amount of mold. Not sure if it was from that incident or previous incidents.

The physical damage didn't bother Mom, but some of the irreplaceable personal items did (photos, albums, etc). Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done about that.

Good luck in your recovery.

Don't expect a lot from FEMA. You may get a small amount of cash directly from them (if you're lucky), assuming the area is declared a federal disaster area and you qualify, you'll get paperwork to also apply for a low interest loan from SBA. We suffered damage (two windows cracked) from the earthquake last summer. After much handwringing our county was finally included to get aid. I applied, they sent an adjuster out and in the end we received about $300 from FEMA. Considering the cost to replace the windows was $400 each, it was a joke. And it wasn't worth taking a loan with SBA. And because we didn't have an earthquake rider on the policy (who does in VA?), the damage wasn't covered by the homeowner's insurance.
 

·
Active Jeeper
Joined
·
31,129 Posts
Sounds promising and sounds like the landlady is decent.
As for HOA's and management, all common areas, ie: everything outside the walls*, is indeed their responsibility and liability.
If the flooding was magnified by poor drainage and or gutters, then both you and the landlord have an excellent case.
You will be better served to act as a team, against the HOA, rather than be adversaries, at least at this point in the battle.



* often including the wall exterior and the roof.
 

·
DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
Joined
·
8,808 Posts
I agree, keep good records though, write down what's said in conversations afterward, maybe get a voice recorder for those HOA meetings so that they can't claim stuff wasn't said in that public-ish forum.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top