A woman fills up a glass with water at her kitchen sink, showing how you can prevent water damage as a tenant

Whether it's due to a sewer back-up, a forgetful upstairs neighbour leaving the bathtub running, or a heavy rainstorm, water damage can mean costly repairs and the loss of personal belongings. This is true whether you own or rent your home. If you're the tenant of a rental property, there are things you can do to help prevent water damage before it happens.

Alongside having the proper tenant insurance in place to protect your belongings if your rental property is damaged by water, follow these proactive steps to prevent water damage in your apartment or house:

  1. Keep an eye on running water. As a tenant, you may not think you're responsible for the cost to repair water damage, but if the damage is a result of your negligence, either your landlord or their insurance company may require you to pay for repairs or renovations. Your tenant insurance will cover you in these cases, but it's better to avoid making a claim — especially if you're at fault. Prevent water damage by keeping watch over running tubs or sinks to make sure nothing overflows or is actively leaking.
  2. Inspect your unit for cracks or potential leaks. Your landlord should have completed a thorough inspection of your rental unit before you moved in, but it never hurts to keep an eye out for any cracking in the foundation or sealant around your unit's windows or doors. If you notice any cracks — even if they're small — report them immediately to your landlord so they can fix the issue and stop leaks before they begin.
  3. Watch what you flush down the toilet and pour down the drain. Common household items like cat litter and cleaning wipes can clog your toilet, while cooking oil or grease can build up in your pipes. Over time, your drains or toilet could back up and overflow, causing significant water damage in your rental unit. Be a responsible renter and properly dispose of all these items to avoid a sewer backup.

    Keep your apartment dry and prevent potential water damage by watching what you pour down your drains and reporting potential leaks or cracks in your unit to your landlord as soon as you notice them.

  4. Keep the furnace running in the winter. If you're travelling down south for the winter months, keep your thermostat set to at least 12 degrees Celsius to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting while you're away. For an extended vacation, consider draining your pipes and completely turning off your unit's water supply. This could save you from coming home to a burst pipe and some serious water damage. If water damage occurs while you're away, your insurance company may have specific requirements on how often you should have someone come by to inspect your home for coverage to apply. Talk to your group's broker to find out what's outlined within your tenant insurance policy.
  5. Report any concerns to your landlord ASAP! If you notice new water damage — whether it be in the walls, ceiling, basement, or around the seals of windows or doors — or any potential sources of water damage starting in your unit, report it to your landlord immediately so they can begin repairs and prevent further damage. This can protect your belongings and help keep your home safe and dry.

As a tenant, you play a role in preventing water damage on the property you rent. Along with working closely with your landlord and keeping communication open, reach out to your group's licensed insurance broker to see how having the right tenant insurance coverage can save you money.

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