Irene almost seems like a dress rehearsal now, doesn't it? Hurricane Sandy has come and mostly gone, leaving a six alarm fire that destroyed dozens of homes in Breezy Point, flooded subways and tunnels throughout the New York area, and a tanker ship sitting on a beach in Staten Island.
Fortunately, if any city can handle the damage to its infrastructure, it's New York. This city has dealt with plenty, and a little rain and wind won't be much more than a speed bump in the long run. For individuals however, the cleanup process and rebuilding of homes and lives starts now.
FindLaw's Boston Real Estate blog points out that for renters, the duty to make your apartment habitable will fall on the landlord or owner. While a reasonable amount of time should be allowed for repairs (parts of the city are still underwater, after all), if your landlord doesn't make repairs in a timely manner, your remedies could include breaking your lease, withholding rent, and of course, contacting an attorney.
For homeowners, you'll want to check your homeowners' insurance policy. The Associated Press reports that in many cases, flood damage is not covered by insurance, yet hurricane damage is. Theoretically, that means the wind damage will be repaired on the insurance company's tab (after your hefty deductible, of course), while water damage will be up to you to repair. Unfortunately, much of Sandy's wrath took the form of floods, so you'll want to check your policy to see if this exclusion applies. Also, because New York and New Jersey have been declared disaster areas, federal disaster assistance may also help with the recovery.
Other steps to take include:
- Take pictures of all of the damage;
- Don't throw anything away unless it's damaged, as the insurance adjuster will want to inspect everything;
- Make repairs only for safety reasons until the insurance company's representative has inspected the property;
- Keep records of everything you do and everything dollar you spend for purposes of reimbursement.
For more information, bookmark the Boston Real Estate blog, as we will be providing more information in the coming days.
- Consult a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- Sandy's Aftermath: Damage Estimates Top $20 Billion, Among The Worst U.S. Storms Of All Time (Forbes.com)
- Can I be held liable if my tree falls on my neighbor's house? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Hurricane Insurance Coverage -- Wind not Water (FindLaw's Boston Real Estate Law News)