First, be sure to wait until it’s safe for you to return home. Once you’re able to return home, gather any documents that relate to your rental. This could include your rental agreement, rent receipts, utility bills, and insurance documents. Take pictures of the condition of the home. If a government agency has put a notice on your door that says your home is not safe to live in, do not go inside. Take a picture of the notice, if possible.
If your home was damaged, but not destroyed, contact your landlord in writing as soon as possible. List the parts of your home that need to be repaired, and include pictures, if possible. Ask your landlord if they intend to repair your home, and when they plan to begin. If the damage to the home reduces its rental value, you can also tell the landlord that you plan to deduct part of the rent to cover the reduced rental value. For example, you might deduct part of the rent if one of the bedrooms in your house can’t be used, or if your rental agreement included a garage, but the garage is now destroyed.
If your home is so badly damaged that it’s not safe for you to live in it (for example, if there is no running water, or if the roof is damaged), tell your landlord that until the repairs are complete, you will not be paying rent, but will be using your rent money to pay for housing and living expenses elsewhere. Also tell your landlord that you do not intend to abandon your home. Include a way for the landlord to contact you about the repairs.
If a government agency has put a notice on your door that says your home is not safe or lawful to live in, you have the right to end your rental agreement right away. If you want to end your tenancy, tell your landlord, in writing. If a government agency has put a notice on your door that says your home is not safe or lawful to live in, your landlord has the right to end your tenancy by giving you a 24-hour written notice. Your landlord has 14 days from the day that the tenancy ends to return your security deposit (including last month’s rent, if you paid that in advance) and all of the rent for the remainder of the month.
If your landlord does not return your deposit and the remainder of the rent, you have a claim against your landlord for two times the money that the landlord owed you.