I had a massive flood at one of my rental properties. Well, it would be pompous to call it “massive” given what’s been going on elsewhere. It has, however, rendered my little townhouse uninhabitable for the time being. Before I recount the tale, let’s rewind a little…
In my quest to reach financial freedom before my 33rd birthday, I arranged for several large, costly rental property renovations to be completed this summer. Without a stable job, I would not have the cashflow to fund major rental repairs, should they arise at some future point. I paid for a new roof, new windows and eavestroughs for my bungalow. My highrise condo unit had the flooring replaced, got all new appliances and was professionally painted throughout. My townhouse got a new air conditioner, furnace and water heater. During the HVAC replacement, I was told that the figuration of my laundry room / HVAC units presented a fire hazard… so naturally that was all reconfigured.
I’d spent close to $35,000 on the aforementioned work but before I could catch my breath, my longstanding townhouse tenants provided me with 60 days notice of their intention to move out. And thus, ensued a mad dash to clean, stage and re-list my unit. Luckily, I not only re-rented it in a single day, but was able to secure rent that was 10% higher than what the previous tenants had been paying. With all of the major repairs addressed and my new tenants scheduled to move in, I breathed a sigh of relief. Surely all would be well now… and not a minute too soon. I needed my rental income to start flowing for a few months and give me a chance to rebuild my reserve funds.
Our new tenant, a legal clerk, had delayed moving in for a week and arranged for a crew of painters to touch up the unit. So unbeknownst to anyone, there had been a flood. On Monday morning, the painters had arrived with rollers and paint cans in tow, when they’d noticed water seeping down the walls and telltale water stains on the carpet. The hardwood on the main floor had risen, a sure sign of water pooling underneath. The digital thermostat in the living room displayed a humidity level of 98%. Paint was cracked and the smell of must was unmistakable. My tenant notified me and my parents, bless their hearts, took over as I was stuck at work. Contacting the condo corporation, our insurance company, the neighbours (since their unit was where the flood had originated)…. and we heard nothing.
I mean, you pay condo fees and insurance premiums dutifully for years. You play by the rules and assume that should disaster strike, you’ll be in the clear because you took the necessary precautions. Unlike those thoughtless vagrants, playing fast and loose with the the roofs over their heads, I should have had nothing to worry about. But suddenly, I wasn’t so sure. My mom painstakingly reached out to the condo corporation nearly 15 times, leaving message after message. We called StateFarm, who said they would have an adjuster contact us and to just be patient. Hours turned into days and nothing was happening. The property manager for our neighbour’s unit shirked responsibility, stating that he was not responsible for our unit and to contact the condo corporation. The condo corporation said it had nothing to do with them and wouldn’t return our phone calls. StateFarm said that they wouldn’t do anything until the condo corporation had performed emergency remediation…we were getting the runaround and I was getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that no one would step up to help.
Sensing our frustration and lack of progress, Nelia reached out to me. As a legal clerk in a real estate law firm, she was an expert at dealing with insurance companies. She documented the damage in pictures and video, sought out and collated insurance policies & condominium declarations whilst penning carefully worded emails to the parties responsible. While previously our calls had been ignored, we were suddenly being taken seriously. Contractors from both the insurance company and the condo corporation converged on my unit to assess damages and determine who would do what. Turns out that my insurance policy not only covers the repairs, but is also responsible for my lost rental income in the interim. Still though, nothing is a given and dealing with insurance is a battle at the best of times.
Despite this, I can’t help but feel that it was somehow meant to be this way. The flood happening before Nelia had moved in and thus, leaving her personal property untouched. Nelia, just happening to be an amazing legal clerk who could guide us in this process. So *fingers crossed*, when it’s all said and done, I should have all new floors, carpets, walls and paint in the flood affected areas, along with my rental income. Here’s hoping…