Imagine an ordinary working day, which is suddenly interrupted by a call from neighbors – “come urgently, you are flooding us!” The real nightmare of every apartment owner is a flood, and it practically does not matter whether his own home or apartment has been flooded from below, in any case, unpleasant “showdowns”, unforeseen expenses and, in case of flooding of his living space, new repairs are coming.
A flood in an apartment is always a surprise that can overtake the inhabitants of multi-storey buildings at any time. The reasons for this very unpleasant incident can be very different – from faulty pipes of the common house heating system or water supply, to the distraction and negligence of neighbors.
Often the sight of your own apartment, flooded with water and a real waterfall falling from somewhere from above, can lead the owners into a real stupor, and the first thought will be the spiteful “Well, now I’ll go up to you!” Meanwhile, in the event of flooding such a dear and dear real estate, one should act not only promptly, but also carefully, without making mistakes, which in the future may result in additional financial losses and finally ruined relations with neighbors..
So, having discovered that water flows from the ceiling or along the wall of the apartment, first of all it is necessary, of course, to stop this flow. The easiest option is to briskly climb up to the neighbors from above and demand to eliminate the source of the leak. However, it is likely that the neighbors will simply not be at home, and only police officers have the right to break the door and only for a very important reason..
In addition, there are cases when an apartment on the fifth or sixth floor, due to the rather long absence of the owners, managed to safely fill all the apartments up the riser, up to the first floor. In such, without exaggeration, an emergency situation, it is very difficult to figure out where the water is coming from. Therefore, the easiest way is to temporarily shut off the entire riser and the water supply of the entire entrance entirely.
To do this, call the emergency services of the local management company, whose employees are required to arrive on site in a few minutes. That is why every apartment owner should have phones of all utilities and dispatch service operators. But, unfortunately, this does not always happen. Either the phone number is not at hand, and there is no one to ask, or the control room does not answer, but you never know what else. In some houses, residents themselves know perfectly well where exactly the valve is located, which cuts off the water supply. In this case, you can try to act on your own, without waiting for the arrival of utilities. But remember, if as a result of your actions any damage will be caused to the common building communications, you will also have to compensate for it, regardless of the excuses “I was flooded”!
If the cause of the flood was a dilapidated roof and pouring rain, then it may not be possible to quickly stop the leak. Calling in emergency services is also necessary, but roof repairs are time-consuming and expensive, so you will have to deal with the flood using such old methods as bowls and basins installed in the attic or in the corridor..
Another likely cause of a leak is a broken or broken heating pipe. In this case, just shutting off the water, of course, is not enough – you will have to wait until the employees of the management company drain all the water from the heating system, so that the flood may be delayed.
And one more important nuance – water flowing from the ceiling or along the wall can cause a short circuit in the wiring, so it is better to immediately turn off the power supply in the apartment by simply lowering the switches on your meter.
No matter how much the owners of the flooded apartment would like to quickly eliminate all traces of the flood, there is no need to rush with it. If you intend to claim compensation for material damage, you should stock up on evidence. First of all, it is necessary to call the representatives of the management company, who are required to draw up a written act on flooding. In this important document, it is necessary to list in detail all the damage caused by water to your property: damaged furniture, carpets, household appliances, lamps, shoes, clothing and damaged wall, ceiling and floor decoration.
In addition, the act must indicate the reason for flooding – the negligence of the neighbors above or damaged pipes. Often, employees of the operating organization, which is a commercial company and, of course, is in no hurry to pay for the damage from their own pockets, try to shift the blame for what happened on the owners themselves, claiming that improper use of communications led to the flooding of housing, so an expert opinion of independent specialists may be needed and it costs money.
The flooding act is signed by representatives of the management company, who became members of the commission, and the owners, that is, the responsible tenants of the flooded housing, is drawn up in two copies – one remains with the owners, and the second with the employees of the utility.
If the upstairs neighbor is guilty of flooding the apartment, it is highly desirable that he also be present when the act is drawn up. Firstly, he will be able to personally verify the damage caused to them, and secondly, he will understand that the flooded neighbors are determined and do not intend to forgive carelessness. If the neighbor refused to come to the “crime scene” or sign the act of fixing the damage, the document is marked with a corresponding note “such and such refused to be present at the list of damages and sign the act”.
If there are tenants living in the apartment on top, you should report the incident to the owner who rents out his living space. He will be the officially responsible tenant, so it is necessary to resolve the issue with the owner, and he will deal with his tenants on his own.
After being called to the flood site, representatives of the management company are obliged to come on the same or the next day. An important nuance – it is better to leave a statement with the management company in writing and in duplicate, and on your document the employees of the utility company must leave a note of receipt. If the call is made by phone, you should clarify the name of the dispatcher who received the call – if the commission does not come the next day, you will know who to complain to.
But, unfortunately, utilities often try to delay the visit to the affected apartment as much as possible, especially if it became known beforehand that the condition of the common building communications was to blame for the flood, that is, the management company itself would have to compensate for the losses. The wait can drag on for weeks, and living with the traces of a flood is not very comfortable, and the results of flooding may become less noticeable and it will be much more difficult to prove the damage done. In this case, you can try to contact not the dispatcher of the enterprise or emergency service, but personally to the management, to file a complaint about the unfair work of the utilities to higher organizations, for example, the local executive committee or the district government. In some cases, the so-called “people’s diplomacy” helps; personal acquaintance with employees, and even more so with the management of the management company, is always effective. In our country, acquaintances and the notorious “blat” are still often much more effective than actions in strict accordance with the established order.
In any case, while waiting for the visit of the commission from the management company, you should take photos and video of the flood site in order to stock up on visual evidence..
In addition to the act of flooding, an estimate must also be drawn up, which indicates the cost of damaged things and repairs. This is where difficulties may arise – only a specialist will be able to assess the scale of the destruction, so there will be a need for an expert assessment of material damage, and this service, in contrast to drawing up an act on flooding, is already paid. In this case, you should think about whether the compensation received from a neighbor or a management company will cover the costs of the services of expert appraisers.
If expensive, fresh repairs and valuables have suffered from the flood, then an expert examination, which will be the best proof of the amount of losses, is quite advisable..
Another important point concerns stretch ceilings – films made of PVC, they will retain water and, possibly, save the rest of the apartment from water. However, in order to get rid of the formed bubble, you will have to either drain the water yourself through the hole for the chandelier or by disconnecting one edge of the film from the wall.
It is better to entrust this to the specialists of the company that installed the ceilings – this will preserve the guarantee for the film, which is usually provided by the seller, and with the help of a heat gun, the ceiling will quickly return to its original state. If the stretch ceiling is irretrievably damaged, its price, of course, must be included in the defective act.
Of course, you can try to negotiate with adequate neighbors peacefully and not call the representatives of the management company at all. However, in this case, there is a great danger of being left with no evidence of flooding at all – a neighbor who promised “we will repair everything and give money” may later abandon his words, and it will be too late to call communal services.
It is difficult to say unequivocally exactly how to proceed in the event of an apartment being flooded – it all depends on what exactly caused the flood that overtook you, what relations developed with neighbors, and so on..
In the worst case, it is not possible to establish the culprit of the flooding at all. For example, a common sewer riser became the source of the flood, where one of the residents threw a rag, as a result of which the pipe clogged, and liquid waste poured out of the toilet bowl and the sink of the unfortunate owners. It will not be possible to establish who exactly acted so recklessly and clogged the sewer system – no examination will determine the owners of the unfortunate rag, and the operating company in this case cannot be found guilty.
We go to court
An extreme measure in relation to a neighbor or a management company who does not want to compensate for the damage caused by flooding will be to go to court. Before going to the judicial authorities and writing a statement of claim, you need to stock up on a package of documents, which will include:
- flooding act;
- the so-called defective act or other document confirming material damage, which lists all the damaged things and decoration, indicating their value;
- an estimate of the repair work that was carried out to eliminate the flood;
- documents of title to an apartment, for example, a contract of sale or donation, a certificate of ownership, which is issued during privatization, and the like;
- reference-characteristic from BTI.
The statement of claim indicates the specific culprit of the flooding – a neighbor who forgot to turn off the tap in the bathroom or an operating organization that did not change risers, common heating pipes and did not repair the roof on time.
And yet, even after the court’s decision was in your favor, unfortunately, you cannot expect to receive compensation for damage quickly. Neighbors from above may turn out to be low-income pensioners who will be obliged by the court to pay a certain percentage of their monthly income – a fairly modest amount. And the management company may begin to complain about “hard times” and promise to pay material compensation in parts “sometime later.”.
By the way, if, in addition to material compensation, you also want to receive compensation for moral damage, then as proof that you had one, you will need to present an extract from your medical card or a certificate of incapacity for work. That is, doctors must document that the flooding of the apartment upset you so much that it harmed your health. Witnesses confirming that you were admitted to the hospital immediately after the flood that overtook your dear and beloved home will not interfere..
Litigation is a lengthy, stressful process and, moreover, requires additional costs to pay the required fees and information and technical support for the consideration of the case. So this step should be taken only after making sure that it is impossible to solve the case and punish the guilty in another way..
I am the culprit
Consider this option – you became the culprit of the flood that spoiled the neighbors’ apartment. In this case, the first step will also be to eliminate the leak as quickly as possible, which will minimize the damage caused. Unfortunately, if the flood began in your absence, it will not be possible to take prompt action, so the amount of compensation may increase.
Second, you should not refuse to communicate with the affected neighbors in any case. In response to all the thunder and lightning that are likely to fly in your direction, it is better to peacefully apologize and admit your guilt, promising to do everything possible to correct the harm. Maybe you paint the ceiling yourself or paste over the wallpaper, maybe pay for the purchase of the required amount of finishing materials and the work of the repair team.
Disputes can arise over the size of the damage – if neighbors insist that the wallpaper in their living room was very expensive, and as a result of the flooding, an ultra-modern home theater burned down, it may be cheaper to pay for the services of an expert who will accurately establish the extent of the damage caused.
If you think that it is not your fault in the flooding of the lower apartment, but the operating organization is still to blame, you will also have to prove your innocence by conducting an appropriate examination. For example, your rooms are dry, but neighbors have it flowing down the wall and, most likely, the reason lies in the joints between the pipes of the common house heating or water supply system, for which the utility company is responsible. It is difficult to prove this, you will have to break the wall, however, if the management company is proven guilty, it is obliged to compensate not only the repair of the flooded apartment, but also your losses associated with paying for the services of experts and repairing the destroyed wall. In this case, it is better to join forces with a neighbor from below – he is also interested in establishing the truth and eliminating the leak as soon as possible..
Nowadays, almost all insurance companies offer such services as home insurance, including in case of a flood. But more often than not, it is impossible to insure your apartment only against flooding – this insured event will become just one of several possible unpleasant incidents from which housing will be insured.
For example, a typical insurance contract includes insured events such as robbery, fire, natural disaster, utility breakdown, domestic gas explosion, flooding, and so on. That is, flood insurance is carried out within the framework of general apartment insurance..
If the likelihood that the neighbors from above will flood you is very high, for example, very elderly people live on the top floor who can simply forget about the open tap, a family with children who like to make a “storm” in the bathroom or just alcoholics, it is better to insure against damage not an apartment as a whole, but specifically wall decoration, household property, flooring and so on.
The insurance contract must be read very carefully, as well as other important documents that you sign. For example, an insurance company may indicate in small print that it will compensate for flood damage only if the amount exceeds a certain amount. But the amount of damage will have to be previously proved to the insurers, that is, to carry out an examination at their own expense.
The amount of the insurance premium depends on the area and level of decoration of the apartment. For example, a regular insurance contract for a one-room apartment with cosmetic repairs for a period of a year can cost up to 1,000 rubles, but for a larger apartment with a high-quality European-quality repair, you will have to pay about 2-3 thousand. However, the amount of compensation in the event of flooding and damage to property will also increase accordingly. Insurance companies’ rates vary greatly, so it is better to consider several offers. You can, of course, choose an expensive annual policy, for which you will have to pay at least 50-60 thousand rubles in order to receive compensation in the amount of up to 10 million rubles after the occurrence of an insured event. And you can save money – it is unlikely that the house will be destroyed to the ground as a result of flooding.
There is an opportunity to insure your civil liability to neighbors in case their apartment is flooded due to your fault. In this case, you can set the size of the insurance premium and payments yourself – if the neighbors below have made excellent repairs and have very expensive furniture, it is better not to be greedy and pay a little more, insuring your civil liability for 100-200 thousand rubles. If the apartment below does not shine with beauty and decoration, you can limit yourself to a minimum insurance premium of up to 500 rubles and a payment of 20-40 thousand. The insurance company can increase the size of the policy premium if construction work is underway on your living space, there are worn out or outdated communication networks, you are absent from the apartment for more than 30 days a year – all this increases the risk of flooding your neighbors.
If your apartment or civil liability is insured, many problems associated with flooding apartments are much easier to solve. It is enough to immediately call a representative of the insurance company who will also be interested in identifying the culprits. Experts will inspect the damage, assess the damage, and you just have to write a statement – the insurers will deal with the neighbors and the management company. However, this most attractive scenario is possible only if the insurance company faithfully fulfills its obligations and values its reputation. Otherwise, payments will also have to wait..
Of course, flooding an apartment is always a very unpleasant incident, so it’s better not to face such a thing. But if an incident does occur, all necessary measures should be taken to minimize its consequences, receive compensation, carry out repairs and forget about flooding as soon as possible..