In the wake of a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey, many renters whose homes were damaged may be hesitant, unwilling, or simply unable to make rent payments. Some rental homes will be completely uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. Other renters may choose to relocate or, even if they do not, feel reluctant to pay full rent on a home that is damaged.
Fortunately, there are state laws that give renters certain options and protections in these situations.
However, because the associated processes are detailed and complicated, self-help withholding of rent payments is a risky proposition.
Therefore, if your rental property was damaged in Hurricane Harvey or a similar natural disaster and you are considering withholding rent payments, it is important to proceed with caution.
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Renters’ Rights & Options in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey Flooding
Your rights and duties depend heavily on your specific situation. Only in very narrow circumstances will you not be obligated to pay rent at all. If your residence is made completely uninhabitable, either you or your landlord may terminate the lease before repairs are made (provided certain notice requirements are met).
If you are in the more common position of having a rental home that is damaged but still inhabitable, the situation is more complicated. You may, however, be entitled to a rent reduction via:
- Your lease agreement
- An arrangement or agreement with your landlord
- A court order, if your landlord is uncooperative.
Similar arrangements may be possible with regard to out-of-pocket repairs you make yourself.
It is important to remember, though, that:
- Mishandling these situations could subject you to larger penalties under the lease for default.
- Your landlord is most likely obligated to repair storm damage, though (s)he may be given extensions while waiting for insurance payments. Although it can be frustrating to wait for a landlord to make promised repairs, making rent payments is recommended (when possible).
FEMA has already approved over $79 million to be dispersed in disaster relief, which can be used for temporary housing or rental assistance. You can apply for FEMA assistance here.
Get Essential Answers about Your Hurricane Harvey Claim: Contact an Insurance Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm
An insurance lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm is ready to help you recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Call (877) 892-2797, text (281) 612-8024 or email our firm for your FREE Consultation. In this meeting, we will answer your questions and explain what you need to do to position your Hurricane Harvey claim for success.
The Amaro Law Firm’s history of extraordinary representation and success in hurricane damage claims has earned us glowing testimonials from former clients, as well as 5-star ratings on Google and Facebook.