Tenant or Landlord? Liability for Storm Damage

Heavy and persistent rainfalls, heavy thunderstorms, and violent storms – especially in the summer months, thunderstorms often sweep over Germany, which can cause enormous damage: Roofs are covered, basements and ground floor apartments are flooded and electrical devices are destroyed by lightning strikes. At the latest when their NYC rental apartment is affected for the first time, tenants quickly ask themselves: Who actually has to pay for the costs of repairing the storm damage like fixing the broken screws or building the floor again?

Who is liable for storm damage?

First of all, we have good news for all tenants: all damage to the rented apartment caused by a storm must be paid for by the landlord. The landlord has the obligation to maintain the apartment. If there is damage due to a storm, he must therefore restore the original condition that was contractually agreed and also pay for the resulting costs.

The landlord is also liable for damage to all objects within the apartment that were also rented out. These include, for example, satellite dishes, floor coverings, and fitted kitchens.

The landlord is obliged to have the damage in the apartment and on the building repaired immediately. So he must:

  • Have water pumped out of the cellar or apartment
  • Dry out the basement or apartment
  • Order painting and painting work

He may not charge the tenant for the resulting costs. However, you have no claims against the landlord if you are responsible for the damage yourself. This applies, for example, if you have left a window open despite a long absence or left your non he washer on for long which might have caused a short circuit.

The right course of action in the event of damage

If you discover damage to the rental property after a storm, you should inform the landlord immediately. The best thing to do is to contact him in writing and include a detailed description of the damage. Ask the landlord to personally inspect the damage and remedy it as soon as possible.

If the landlord does not comply with this request within a reasonable period – which is usually one week – he will be in default. In this case, you can usually repair the damage yourself and request reimbursement of the costs.

Damage that has occurred in the basement or in the apartment as a result of flooding is basically a deficiency in the apartment that entitles you to reduce the rent. As long as you cannot use the apartment without restrictions, you can reduce the rent. This also applies if the landlord is not responsible for the flooding. However, caution is advised when reducing the rent, because a termination can be given in the event of arrears, which is sometimes irreversible. Use legal advice if you are unsure about this.

Who is liable for damage to the facility?

If the flood has damaged their own furniture or other furnishings, the tenant usually has to pay for the repair of this damage himself. Flood damage is usually not covered by home or household insurance. The damage is only paid for if a supplementary natural hazard insurance has been taken out.

As a tenant, you can only claim damages from the landlord if he is to blame for the flooding. This is the case, for example, when the backflow valve has not been adequately maintained and has caused a backflow in the sewer. If it can be proven that the municipality has not designed the sewer system to be sufficiently large, it may be possible to make claims for compensation against the municipality.


If a rented apartment is damaged by heavy rain, thunderstorms or storms, the landlord has to pay for the damage. The tenant only pays for damage to their own furnishings.

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