Need to Know Guide: Apartment Water Leaks in Seattle

Water leaks can happen, whether it’s a leak in the plumbing or a leak in the roof. This is especially true in a city like Seattle, where rainfall isn’t exactly an anomaly. Fixing water leaks is something that should never be put off, no matter how small they may appear to be. A small water leak can grow in size the longer it is left alone. Not to mention that water leaks can cause a number of problems in themselves, from water damage that can be costly to fix to the growth of mold. If you are living in an apartment, then it’s important that you know who is responsible for fixing any water leaks that occur and what you should do if you spot one.


Overlooking Seattle apartments and businesses near Cal Anderson Park. Photo courtesy Flickr user Oran Viriyincy.

Who is responsible?
The landlord is legally responsible for making any necessary repairs to your apartment, including water leaks. According to state law, all units have to comply with local codes governing housing quality and are obligated to keep your apartment both safe and livable. The only time the landlord won’t be responsible for fixing your apartment’s water leaks is if you were responsible for them occurring. For example, if you for some reason drilled a hole in your water pipes, then you’ll be responsible for paying for the damage (obviously this example is a little farfetched, but you get the idea). However, when it comes to water damage to your property, the landlord is not responsible. For example, if it floods in your apartment due to a large leak and several of your electronics or pieces of furniture are ruined, the landlord is not required to provide you with compensation. Nor does the landlord required to have insurance that covers damages to your property – they only have to have insurance for the building itself. This is why you should strongly consider renters insurance.

What if the landlord doesn’t fix it?
First of all, the landlord is legally required to begin making repairs within a specific timeframe. However, there’s not necessarily a required time frame within which they are required to finish the repairs. You can’t withhold rent until the repair is made, but you can make plans to break your lease if you so desire – as long as you have recorded all of your attempts to get the leak fixed.

What should you do if there is a water leak?
The following are the steps you should take if you spot a leak:

  • Find the water shutoff valves – You should learn where the water shutoff valves are before you experience any water leaks so that you can locate them right away and shut off the water supply to your apartment as soon as you spot a leak. Usually, there will be a water shutoff valve behind your apartment’s toilet and underneath the sink. When you first spot a water leak that is coming from your plumbing, turn your water shutoff valve off right away. If there are no water shutoff valves in your apartment or you can’t find them, simply use a bucket or a pot to gather the water. Keep an eye on it and dump the water whenever it starts getting full.
  • Take care of spilled water – Use a towel to soak up any water that has leaked into your apartment. Place a bucket underneath the leak, whether it’s coming from a pipe or from your ceiling, to prevent water from gathering on your floor. Don’t let water pool on the floor as this can lead to water damage
  • Check your lease – Your lease should provide you with information on what to do in case of a maintenance issue or a maintenance emergency. Usually, the appropriate contact information will be provided.
  • Contacting maintenance – Water leaks are considered emergencies since the longer they are left un-repaired, the more damage they will most likely do. Your lease should provide you with a time frame for how long it will take for maintenance to respond to your issue – in most cases, expect them to respond within 24 hours of making the call. You’ll need to describe the problem in detail (to the best of your abilities), including the time it occurred, what type of leak it is and where the leak is located. If you are calling after hours, a maintenance person that’s on-call should return your call within an hour with further instructions. If maintenance won’t be able to get to the problem soon for one reason or another, ask him or her where the water shutoff valves are if you were unable to locate them.

If you have any more questions regarding water leaks in your apartment, be sure to contact us at Leak Masters today.