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Jacksonville Renters Question Rights After Flooding in Apartments

4:12 PM, Aug 12, 2010   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tera Sudoon's East Arlington apartment is drying out from a water leak, but she still concerned.

"(I feel) uneasy, uneasy. I don't know if there is going to be an electrical problem, what's going to happen. I'm afraid to leave the house," she said.

Sudoon said Wednesday night they had to sleep on an air mattress in the living room because it was too wet in the bedroom.

"All we've seen is water falling down," she said.

Sheena Williams lives in the apartment above Sudoon. Her apartment is also drying out.  Williams said it was scary.

The water that flooded both units was coming from the apartment on the third floor of the building.

Antonio Hill was visiting the Williams.

"It was like somebody had turned on the faucet or the tub, it was just running down," said Hill.

Their concern is who is liable for the damage to their clothes and the property. Sudoon and Williams have renter's insurance, but feel it should be the property owner/landlord.

Landlord Tenant Attorney Fred Elefant said their right as renters is to file a claim with their insurance.

"Your basic resolution is against your own insurance," said Elefant. 

Elefant said most landlord tenant lease agreements encourage the tenant to purchase renter's insurance because if there's a loss, the renter's rights are few, if any.

"I think most people don't have insurance, but they should because the apartment is only liable in most cases if they are negligent," said Elefant.

Elefant said a busted water heater generally is not considered negligence.

Both Williams and Sudoon say they will contact their rental insurance companies.

Cappi Donohew is the manager of Madison at Springwood Apartments. She declined an on-camera interview, but said that they reacted quickly to the leak.

"We did due diligence," she said.

Donohew said one of the requirements for living in her apartment community is that every tenant must have renter's insurance.

Donohew said it protects the renter in situations like what happened in Sudoon and Williams apartments.

First Coast News

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