Flooding at a property is not only a nightmare in terms of what damage it causes, but in how quickly it suddenly appears.
One minute everything may be okay, and the next minute the phone goes or the door opens to find a whole lot of damage, particularly in lower ground and basement levels.
3 Steps to Quickly Know What to Do
Let’s cut to the chase, as you may be reading this with the dilemma at hand.
Here are 3 simple stages to go through from a property-management perspective, to get to the bottom of and begin resolving.
Whether you’re an interested owner, landlord, or tenant direct – or an external advisor like a managing agent – it’s all still applicable.
1. Agreeing the Repairs
It’s obvious of course, to stop the flooding and agree the property repairs, but you need to look at these in two stages.
Firstly, short-term. That’s stopping the water (if possible) by, say, a drain company or even sandbags, and then removing inside (again if possible).
This may involve hiring pumps, and de-humidifiers afterwards to ensure the water in the atmosphere is dealt with as well.
Anything that has been badly damaged and beyond repair will probably be best to remove ASAP, for example soggy carpets and broken plaster board, and don’t forget all the loose ‘contents’ of the occupier as well as the property fabric, and any personal belongings needed.
However, the most important aspect is any potentially dangerous aspects – so electric points and sockets being checked and power turned off if in doubt, plus asbestos disturbance, and general building’s stability.
The second aspect is longer term repairs, something you can spend time carefully considering.
You may require several quotes, through various tradesmen to make sure everything is accounted for right through from the basic drain repair to the wall redecoration.
2. Involving the Insurance
This will probably be through two different forms, one the main buildings policy, and one for contents within the property.
We have a resource here on how this can differ from direct responsibilities under leases and titles, the key now is to notify all other interested parties and people like landlords and other tenants to make them aware and notify any insurers to see if they have any requirements.
Even though an occupier will want to peruse all through the buildings insurance, still notify the contents as they may need to deal with personal items and then counter-claim with the buildings insurers.
As a rough benchmark on whether an insurer will process a successful claim, if the flood is from an unforeseen situation like a sudden burst pipe, or a freakish weather condition like a storm then they’ll probably pay out okay.
3. Counting the Cost
Finally, bottom-out who will be paying for all this, something that can be left too late in the frenzy of dealing with an emergency.
One party like an occupier may need to fork out for the bill as the immediate liable-person to begin with to instruct emergency contractors and dehumidifier hire, say, but then process payment back from an insurance claim or overall landlord.
Be clear on where liabilities lie with leases and titles, and even if a landlord does have to pay then whether they intend to re-charge back to tenants through service charges and observing duties through, for example, section 20 notices with long leasehold residential properties.
Don’t Get Flooded with Problems
Therefore, as you embark on sorting out the damage and distressed people when you’re facing flooding, go through these 3 above stages to look at the bigger-picture issues at hand.
Of course, each situation is different, and you may well need to go off on a tangent to get to the bottom of and apply.
Remember to keep calm, keep communication open with everyone, and that as a property manager you need to keep lots of things going effectively at the same time.
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