What does the landlord's building insurance normally cover?

Water damage in your apartment can quickly cost several thousand euros. But what if an emergency occurs? We explain what to do, how water damage is dried, who pays and who is liable in a rented apartment.

Water damage can have devastating consequences. Therefore, in an emergency, you should act as quickly as possible. We answer all your questions in order to keep the damage and costs as low as possible.

The emergency: what to do in the event of water damage?

• How does water damage occur?

• How do I recognize a water pipe burst?

• What do I have to do in the event of water damage?

The repair: how do I dry water damage?

• How long does it take for water damage to dry?

• How is water damage dried?

• How do I deal with damaged material?

• Do I have to move out temporarily?

The costs: who pays for water damage?

• Which insurance covers which damage?

• Who pays for water damage to the neighbors?

• Tenant or landlord: who is liable?

• Can I arrange a rent reduction?

The emergency: what to do in the event of water damage?

Water damage can occur quickly and should be repaired all the more quickly.

How does water damage occur?

Water damage can have various causes. The most common is a burst pipe. This can be caused by rust, frost, a material defect or construction work.

Defective technical devices such as washing machines, dishwashers or a leaky boiler can also cause water damage in the house. An overflowing bathtub can also cause puddles, but this damage is your own fault.

Floods or heavy rain are considered to be external influences. Often permanent damage occurs to the building fabric or your basement runs full. These consequences are usually the most devastating.

How do I recognize a water pipe burst?

There doesn't have to be a flood right away. Water stains on the walls are usually a clear sign, but they are not always recognized either. If you notice a sudden increase in consumption or a constant flow noise in a pipe, check your water meter. If it rotates a little, even though no water is running, this is often a sign.

If a sewer pipe is damaged, you will usually notice it by an unpleasant smell or water rising from the drain.

What do I have to do in the event of water damage?

You shouldn't panic, of course, but act quickly.

1. Shut off the water supply

Turn off the water supply to prevent further damage. It is sufficient to close the stopcock concerned. If that is not possible, you will have to turn off the main water tap.

2. Interrupt the power supply

Turn off the power to the affected area. To do this, flip the fuses or unscrew the respective screw fuse. In this way you avoid a short circuit and possible consequential fires.

3. Eliminate water

Remove the leaked water as soon as possible. For smaller quantities, this is done with a bucket and a rag. For larger quantities, you should use a wet vacuum or even a pump. If you have very large amounts of water, it is best to call a specialist or, if necessary, the local fire department. Keep in mind that this will cost you. The insurance will cover these costs depending on the circumstances.

4. Save the facility

Remove or stand up carpets, furniture, and electrical appliances from the wet area. Moist textiles and swollen wood in particular tend to form mold. The best way to reduce the humidity is to open the windows and doors. If it drips from the ceiling, cover the furniture with foil.

5. Document the damage

Photograph the affected room and the damaged furniture as detailed as possible, including during your cleanup. You will submit the pictures to your insurance company later. Do not throw away moistened objects immediately, but document the damage. This is the only way the insurance company can replace the value for you.

6. Inform the insurance company

Inform your insurance company and describe the damage. If you do not own the building, contact your landlord or property manager. However, you should not perform any repairs before reporting the damage. The insurance normally determines whether water damage has to be assessed by an expert and whether drying has to be initiated. The insurance company often suggests a specialist company directly.

The repair: how do I dry water damage?

If a pipe breaks, a specialist should come to find the damaged area and repair the cause. With modern technology, the leak can be found quickly without having to smash tiles. In the next step, the specialist begins to dry the water damage.

How long does it take for water damage to dry?

Depending on the size and intensity, the drying time varies: superficial moistening of the walls and floor can dry in a few days. Repairing damage to the masonry can take several weeks or months. That also depends on whether renovation work needs to be done.

How is water damage dried?

The professional knows which drying method to use in your home. The methods vary depending on the intensity and type of water damage. Failure to dry enough can result in consequential damage such as construction defects or, above all, mold that is harmful to health.

The different drying areas

If no cavity walls or insulation are affected, one speaks of one simple room drying.

At a Wall drying only one wall is affected. It is important to know the structure of the wall and to know whether it is an interior or exterior wall. Brick walls can simply be dried. Water can collect in cavities. Here the wall usually has to be opened to check whether mold has formed. If this is the case, the material usually has to be removed.

Even with the Ceiling drying it is very important to know the structure of the ceiling. A concrete ceiling can be dried with little effort. If a ceiling is hung with straw or plasterboard, water can collect in the cavities. This creates damp spots or it starts to drip. The cavity must definitely be dried. Depending on the size, parts of the ceiling may even have to be replaced.

For the right one Floor drying the structure of the floor is also checked. If the screed is firmly connected to the sub-floor (bonded screed) or shielded from the supporting sub-floor with a film (screed on a separating layer), there are no cavities and the floor does not normally need to be dried. It is different when the screed lies on an insulation layer (floating screed): Here the insulation layer must be properly dried. Depending on the damage, core drilling or a new construction may even be necessary.

The different drying methods

The most common is the Condensation dryer used. The moist air is sucked in and then cooled below the dew point. This converts the moist air into condensation water. This is then collected in the water tank and the cool, dry air is released again.

A Adsorption dryer uses the physical properties of a desiccant. The moist air is sucked in by a rotor and passed through a container with the desiccant. Here the water vapor binds to the surface of the desiccant and is discharged via a hose system.

Infrared or dark radiators warm the damp area of ​​a wall. The moisture evaporates and the wall dries.

What do I do with damaged material?

You should remove carpets, furniture, and wet items from the room. If they're still usable, you'll need to dry them. If walls, ceilings and floors cannot be completely dried, if mold has already formed or if there is a risk of collapse, they must be renovated.

Do I have to move out until the apartment is dry?

The affected rooms are usually difficult or impossible to live in. If the water damage is very severe, you may have to move out of your apartment until the damage is repaired. Usually your insurance company or your landlord's insurance will cover the hotel costs. But that is decided depending on the situation: If the kitchen or bathroom is affected, payment is usually made, in bedrooms it depends on how great the damage is.

The costs: who pays for water damage?

Water damage can quickly cost several thousand euros. You can protect yourself with insurance.

Which insurance covers which damage?

In the event of water damage, different insurance companies pay for different types of damage.

  • On your own furniture: Household insurance
  • At own building: building insurance
  • On other people's furniture and buildings: Personal liability insurance of the polluter
  • Floods, backwater or heavy rain: Elementary insurance

The home insurance

The resident's home insurance pays for the Water damage to movable furniture. This includes furniture or technical devices, for example. Normally, home insurance only pays for damage caused by tap water. This is, for example, a broken pipe, a leak in the washing machine or water leaking from the air conditioning system. Tidying, storage or hotel costs are usually paid for by the household insurance. Rising groundwater, backwater in the sewer system, an overflowing bathtub or damage caused by your own cleaning water are usually not insured.

Sometimes water beds or aquariums are also insured.

The building insurance

All damage to the building can be covered by the owner's building insurance. She pays for repairs and maintenance after the water damage. These are, for example, new floor insulation or the sanitary and heating systems.

It is important that the building is not empty or is currently being renovated. Then other insurances such as construction insurance have to pay. In addition, damage caused by groundwater, floodwater or cleaning water is usually not included.

The elementary insurance

The elementary insurance pays for damage caused by natural events, such as heavy rain or floods. Damage caused by natural forces is usually not included in building insurance. Before you take out elementary insurance, however, check whether it is worthwhile. If you don't live in a flood or avalanche area, you may not need this insurance.

Who pays water damage to the neighbors?

If the water damage you are responsible for also causes damage to your neighbor, your private liability insurance will pay for it. But this only applies to the damage that occurs to others. Your own household insurance is responsible for your own furniture.

Tenant or landlord: who is liable?

The basic rule applies: You have to pay who caused the damage. If you let the bathtub overflow as a tenant, you have to pay for the damage to the building and the neighboring apartments.

A broken pipe can result from negligence on the part of the landlord, but also from external circumstances. The homeowner has to take care of the repair of the damage and habitability of the house. The landlord's building insurance usually pays for this.

The tenant is responsible for his own household effects. If he has no home insurance and knows that the damage could have been avoided by the landlord, he can demand compensation. The landlord is liable for this.

In a condominium home, insurance must be paid by the owner who owns the apartment that caused the damage.

Can I arrange a rent reduction?

Due to noise pollution from the drying devices and if you can only use some of your rooms, you can arrange a rent reduction with your landlord. Of course, this is only possible if you, as the tenant, are not responsible for the damage. It depends on how much less rent you have to pay. For example, you can get a suggestion from rental associations.

This is how you prevent water damage

Only leave household appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers on when you are at home. To avoid burst pipes, you should have the pipes checked regularly by a specialist, especially in older houses. In winter, insulation can protect the pipes from frost.

In addition, find out beforehand so that you know immediately what to do, who is paying, who is liable and how to initiate the drying process. With the right insurance you will also save high costs.

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