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Long-term water damage one of the biggest rental property risks

By Tim Neary
14 November 2018 | 10 minute read
water faucet reb

Unidentified water damage has emerged as one of the biggest risks to a landlord’s rental property, according to new research.

Terri Scheer Insurance said that its latest data has found that water damage comprised approximately 14 per cent of all claims paid in Victoria and New South Wales last year. This compares to around 8 per cent of claims nationally.

Terri Scheer Insurance executive manager Carolyn Parrella said that water dripping through the ceiling, overflowing toilets or basins, and unexplained dampness can keep landlords awake at night.

“Landlords must keep an eye out for any signs of water damage,” Ms Parrella said.

“If water damage isn’t identified early, it can impact an insurance claim if it’s found to be a long-term leak. Once water damage is found, in some cases it can be very costly to repair.”

Ms Parrella said that there are multiple culprits.

“This may include damage caused by roof guttering, drains, water tanks, aquariums, hot water systems, roads and pathways, or other parts of the property designed to contain or carry water or liquid such as sinks, basins, baths, toilets, showers and washing machines.”

She said that there are a number of proactive steps landlords and property managers can take to avoid water-related issues.


1. Water bills

“Landlords and property managers should closely review their quarterly water bills for discrepancies,” Ms Parrella said. 

“Unexpected increases in water usage may signal a leaking pipe underground.”

2. Gutters

Ms Parrella said that clearing gutters should be part of every landlord or property manager’s maintenance routine for a property.

“When gutters are blocked with leaves and debris, rainwater has nowhere else to go except to overflow or wash back through the eaves and into the home’s wall cavities.”

3. Wet spaces 

“Leaking sinks and basins often lead to water-damaged cabinetry,” Ms Parrella said.

“It pays to periodically clear out your cupboards and check for any signs of damp, which can cause timber to swell and warp if not removed and the source identified.”

4. Professionals

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to water damage, Ms Parrella noted.

“Paying a certified plumber to inspect your investment property can be worthwhile expense,” the executive manager said.

“Often they’ll be able to find water-related issues that would be unrecognisable to the landlord or property manager. Plumbers have professional equipment to measure the flow rates of waste water pipes to check whether there’s any out-of-sight blockages.”

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