It’s a tenant’s nightmare. Water damage in AZ is bad enough when it happens on property that you own, but if your apartment floods, you get shouldered with the stress of determining who is really responsible for the repairs. It’s a sticky situation with a lot of seemingly gray areas. If a pipe bursts in your ceiling and your belongings sustain property damage, are you eligible for compensation? What if the damage is due to your negligence and you flood the apartment below you?

Many people rent because they aren’t ready to commit to buying a home. Having to bear responsibility for serious damage to a huge building that isn’t even your own sounds like a death sentence for your financial life. Luckily, it isn’t always so drastic.

Responsibilities of the Landlord

In the United States, the landlord is responsible for the general upkeep of the building. This means that any problems with pipes in the walls or leaky ceilings are to be resolved by the landlord. They are also responsible for the maintenance of sinks, tubs, and toilets. Anything that results from a failure to properly maintain the building will be the landlord’s fault.

Rights of the Tenant

What if responsibility does not clearly fall on the landlord? Each state has its own set of tenant’s rights, and you should check yours appropriately. Furthermore, it’s important that you read your lease carefully before you sign it. Most reputable rental properties will have insurance that covers certain types of damage, and this will be outlined in the lease. There should also be stipulations for canceling the lease in the event of severe damage. Generally, minor damage will not allow you to cancel the lease without penalty, but if your apartment becomes truly unlivable, cancellation is allowed. If you can’t find any of this in your lease, you should speak to your landlord about it so that you know what to do in the worst case scenario.

If you damage the building due to your own negligence, it is likely that you will be responsible for the damage. The landlord can also evict you in some cases. This is where renter’s insurance comes in handy. Many places require you to have it before you even move in because it will often cover damage due to the tenant. Regardless, it’s a good idea to get it. The last thing you want is to have to shell out thousands of dollars from your own pocket!