Getting Help with Flood Damage

Flooding and damage to property in New Zealand in January 2023 has been exacerbated by the devastation and destruction of Cyclone Gabrielle in February. With many homes left flood-damaged or uninhabitable, New Zealanders begin the big clean-up. Less than two months into the new year and this year’s extreme weather events are likely to set records when it comes to insurance claims. If your home has been compromised, here are some things you should know.

Cleaning up your home

Once the floodwaters have receded and it’s safe to return to your home, cleaning and drying will be a top priority. Contamination from faecal matter in floodwaters is a major concern after a flooding event, and anything inside the home that can’t be safely cleaned will need to be replaced, including carpets, flooring, curtains, and furniture. Food items that may have spoiled during a power cut will also need to be thrown out.

Floodwaters can cause damp and mould issues which may be harmful to those who suffer from asthma, allergies or breathing problems. Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry out your home. Check for signs of mould on walls, curtains and on furniture items in the home. And call in an expert to help remove large patches of mould. It’s recommended that you wear gloves and a mask while cleaning, and that you wash your hands carefully once done.

Rentals and tenancy agreements

As a landlord or a tenant, you have some rights and responsibilities when it comes to flood-damaged properties. The landlord of a rental property is responsible for paying for any damage to the property. While repairs are being done, rent should be reduced and, if the tenant must vacate the property while it’s being repaired, rent should be put on hold.

If the property is uninhabitable, tenants may give 2 days’ notice and stop paying rent but must advise their landlord before doing so. If the property is only partially damaged and the landlord does not agree to end the tenancy, the issue may need to be resolved with the Tenancy Tribunal. Where tenants may give 2 days’ notice for vacating an uninhabitable property, landlords are required to give 7 days’ notice to tenants.

Insurance claims

The Insurance Council of New Zealand says insurance claims following the 2023 weather events are likely to total tens of millions of dollars, and that insurers are doing their best to process claims as quickly as possible.

If your property has been damaged and you need to claim from insurance, check the inclusions in your home insurance policy first to see what’s covered. Some policies include an accommodation allowance that could help you pay for alternative accommodation if you need to move out of your home while it’s being repaired.

Document any damage by taking photos and writing detailed notes and avoid repairing anything until you’ve spoken to your insurance provider. Get more information about how to clean up after a flooding or extreme weather event here, and know what your rights are after a natural disaster by referring to this article.

Get in touch with your insurance provider, or contact a Mortgage Express branded insurance adviser, for more advice and assistance with processing an insurance claim for flood-damage.

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