If you’re a homeowner, the onus of repairing damaged property falls squarely on you. You’ll likely get help from your insurance company, who will give you a settlement you can use to hire contractors, who will in turn get your house back to the way you want it.

But what if you’re a renter or a landlord? Who is responsible for the damages after a natural disaster?

The answer is, it depends on what’s damaged.

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Damage to the property itself

This kind of damage is usually the landlord’s (or the landlord’s insurance company’s) responsibility. Things like a broken window, ruined carpets, or roofing damage count as damage to the property. Basically anything that’s part of the building itself is the landlord’s responsibility.

If you’re a landlord, you’re going to need to make repairs quickly and diligently. A leaky ceiling or shattered windows made your rental unlivable. Your tenant may have to relocate and, depending on the laws in your locality, you may be on the hook for the cost of a hotel room while the tenant is away. Make repairs quickly and remain in contact with your tenant as much as possible. Keep them abreast of your repair plans. In the aftermath of a disaster, communication can be difficult, but reasonable parties arrive at a solution more quickly. Being up front and forthright will help the repair process move much more smoothly.

Damage to items in the apartment

Unlike damage to the property itself, damage to items inside the rental unit can be a little trickier. There’s no hard and fast rule, but if a renter brought the item into the apartment, it’s likely the renter’s responsibility. That means that if your TV got ruined, you’re likely on the hook for the repair costs.

Thankfully, if you have renter’s insurance, you may well be covered. Take some time to study your policy and, if you can’t figure out whether you’re covered or not, give your insurance company a call or consult with a lawyer.

That said, not all items in an apartment or rental home are inherently the renter’s responsibility. If a renter moved in to a furnished apartment, the landlord may be required to re-furnish it. Likewise, any major appliances---like a refrigerator---may also be the landlord’s responsibility, as the owner must keep his or her property in good, liveable condition.

Whether you’re the landlord or the tenant, odds are you’ll be dealing with your insurance company. Read up on how to write an insurance claim after a disaster and what to expect after you submit an insurance claim.

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