If a disaster such as a flood makes the rental unit you were living in uninhabitable, you obviously must find a different place to stay, at least temporarily.
“At the same time, you must understand your responsibilities to your current landlord,” says Debra Pankow, North Dakota State University Extension Service family economics specialist. “You may have signed a lease, paid a security deposit, and, in some cases, paid rent in advance.”
She recommends you review your lease or rental agreement to see if it contains provisions that outline what happens if the property becomes unlivable because of a disaster, and whether you can move without penalty and you are eligible to receive the deposit you made when you signed the rental agreement.
Finding available housing in your community could be difficult if the disaster damaged many houses or rental units. Pankow recommends you check newspapers and websites for information on available rental housing. She also suggests trying to negotiate a month-to-month lease if you are renting another unit until your pre-disaster rental unit is available again.
Here are some other tips if your rental unit is unlivable:
* You may need to consider other options than the type of rental unit you had in the past. * Review your housing needs and goals (for example, does your housing need to be wheelchair accessible?), and look for rental units that meet them.
* If possible, compare at least two rental options before you make a decision on where to live.
For more help in deciding what to do about your flood-damaged rental property, check out Unit 7 of Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit. This free, online resource the NDSU Extension Service and University of Minnesota Extension developed is available at www.extension.umn.edu/family/tough-times/disaster-recovery/family-financial-toolkit/family-financial-toolkit-unit-7.html. It will help you assess your short- and long-term housing options and become aware of the possible assistance and resources that may be available to you as a renter.