Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Nebraska

Commercial Real Estate Flooded

I have a commercial rental property which was flooded by my neighbor (bait shop) in February. Luckily we had pretty much moved everything out 4 days prior to our new location, but had some items in the backroom on shelves. I let the bait shop shop vac the water (over 50% of the floor standing water). My lease stated that I needed to inform the landlord within 48 hours, I did this. Mold has since grown in the backroom. The bait shop had not paid his insurance, and it took the landlord 2 1/2 months to finally even come in and look at it. In the meantime I had to remove all of my contents so moisture & mold would not damage anything. This happened in early Feb. I have paid rent for Feb, March, April. The landlord is not going to notify their insurance company (which I'm assuming would have reimbursed some of my rent) I asked for not having to pay the final month, and was told no. If I don't pay and they come after me for the rent, would I be held liable? Or could I potentially come back and try to have them reimburse me for the past months rent in which I was not able to utilize my bay?

Asked on 4/23/08, 12:58 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Duke Drouillard Drouillard Law, LLC

Re: Commercial Real Estate Flooded

I would need to review the lease to give you a definitive answer. I charge for reviewing leases. If the lease contains no unusual terms, then you are obligated to pay the full rent due under the lease and you may be held liable to the landlord for any additional cleanup or mold abatement remedies necessary to restore the property to the condition it was in when you received it. The bait shop owner may be liable to you, but the fact that he doesn't have insurance may make it difficult for you to collect any damages. That does not make it the landlord's problem. It is your problem. It appears that you did not carry renter's insurance or have not presented a claim under your insurance policy if you have one. That would be your best protection. If you don't have renter's insurance, that was your choice and is your problem. You assumed that risk if you did not insure against it. You have a duty to clean up the water damage and prevent a mold situation from developing. Apparently, you assumed it was someone else's problem and failed to do so.

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Answered on 4/23/08, 10:51 pm

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