What Can You Do If Your Rental Is Smashed In A Storm?

Renters and homeowners have a few options when it comes to dealing with the aftermath of damage from a severe storm.

While it's important home owners and renters take necessary steps to protect their property, including their homes, cars and other contents ahead of time, often, as with the storms seen in NSW this week -- storms can occur with little to no warning and can cause serious damage.

Damage From Trees and Other Objects

Fallen trees which often take down power lines can cause serious damage to cars and houses, during storms.

On Wednesday, the NSW SES issued a warning reminding people that root damage can be a major cause of tree failure.

While steps can be taken to mitigate damage, including parking cars away from trees, sometimes it can be inevitable.

If a tree does fall and damage your property, it can be important to get council information on the health of the tree.

The first step would of course be removing the tree off the premises which, depending on the circumstances, is often done immediately by SES or fire crews, particularly when there is a danger of impeding traffic or overhead power lines.

Insurers also need to look at whose property the tree was located on -- as often it can be a neighbouring property -- as well as whether there had been known prior problems with the tree.

Flooding Damage

Severe storm activity in Sydney on Wednesday saw flash floods quickly ruin roads, clog car engines and seep into a number of properties.

More than two months worth of rain was dumped on the city in a matter of hours, with West Pennant hills recording 72.5 millimeters of rain in just one hour by 6:30am.

There are a variety of insurance options available. Policies are generally calculated using a range of different variables including typical rainfall in your area, mitigation factors as well as infrastructure and development changes in the region.

Information For Renters

Serious storm damage, a serious roof leak, electrical faults or other damage that make a premises unsafe are considered urgent repairs, according to the Tenants Union of NSW.

Landlords are responsible for making sure 'urgent repairs' are made to a property as soon as possible.

A storm damaged washing line in Lennox Head is pictured, Thursday, June 3, 2010. (Image: AAP)

The most important point renters must remember is the landlord is not responsible for the contents of their home, said Campbell Fuller, spokesman for the Insurance Council of Australia.

"Renters should have their own contents insurance, their landlord's insurance does not cover them," he told 10 daily.

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Two-thirds of renters do not have their own contents insurance for a combination of reasons, Fuller said.

"Some believe they are covered under their landlord's insurance, they are not," he said.

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The affordability factor plays a big role in tenants not having contents insurance, as some believe the value of their contents does not meet how much they would pay for insurance.

But this can be a trap, Fuller warned.

"When they start doing inventory, they realise how much stuff they own and how much it adds up," he said.

Landlords are not obliged to help tenants find temporary accommodation. Image: Getty Images

Insurance companies in Sydney have received a relatively low number of claims compared to the ferocity of the storm, Fuller said.

Most of the damage reported has been caused by flash flooding, leaking roofs and overflowing gutters.

Heavy Rain Engulfs Sydney As Wild Weather Lashes NSW

If a property becomes unlivable due to storm damage, tenants must discuss their temporary accommodation options with their landlords.

"Talk to your landlords. Temporary accommodation may be available under their insurance," Fuller said.

"But landlords are not obliged to help."

Temporary accommodation may also be available under the tenant's contents insurance.