Couple out thousands after water damage in rented garage

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Garages are mostly used for storage, whether you are storing vehicles or personal items. Unfortunately for one local couple, they learned the hard way that you have to be careful what you store in garages that you rent.

"This is our brown distressed leather chair," Patricia Redd said.

The couple's brown leather chair

The leather chair looked like all of Patricia's other belongings, soiled from water and mold damage.

"This is where it sat in the water and the wood is splitting," Redd said.

A piece of furniture, damaged and split by water

Patricia has picture after picture of the damages. She says it happened while she and her husband were renting an apartment at Colonial Grand Arringdon in Morrisville while they built their new home.

"The property manager suggested that we could rent the garages to hold our stuff, so we thought that would be great," she said.

They rented three garages to store all of their possessions.

The three garages used to store the couple's belongings

But they discovered a big problem when her husband went to get an item from the garage.

"When he opened up the garage, water had come out, and we notified them right away that there was water. They came out and said there is no active leak," Patricia explained.

When Patricia and her husband started moving things out of the garage, they realized it was bigger than they thought.

"Just everything, I mean boxes were disintegrated. Mold had been created as a result of the standing water," she said.

Patricia wanted the apartment complex to be responsible since she said the water was able to get into the garages.

"They kept saying the regional maintenance director looked and there is no active leak, just deny, deny, deny," she said.

Patricia had renters insurance, but that claim was denied. According to her insurance company, her policy only covers storm related damages, not when water just gets into a building.

"To date, what we have replaced, we have receipts of $9,000 and we aren't done," she said.

Patricia says she wants to warn others because when she confronted a rep at the apartment complex, she says she was told renters store personal items in the garages often.

"You have to tell people not to put their personal items in those garages and she looked at me and said 'That's all people use them for, people do it all the time,'" Patricia said.

I reached out to Mid-America, the owners of Colonial Grand at Arringdon, and a rep provided me with this statement:

Mid-America Apartments prides itself in timely and response to all of our residents. We are thankful for Pattie and Jack's residency at our community. We took many steps to assist them in determining a cause of their issue as well as helped them to explore the various options that might be available.

All of our lease contract paperwork and our online application process, documents and clearly explain the requirement of personal liability insurance for every resident. This requirement helps to ensure that if damage or loss situation arises, the resident is prepared. The additional recommendation is that residents obtain personal property coverage to assist them with damage or loss of their personal belongings is also a part of our resident documentation and education process.

After Pattie and Jack informed us of their concern with their garage area, we completed an inspection of the unit within 48 hours and recommended that the couple contact their personal insurance agent, which they did. However; due to the nature of their chosen policy, it appears that their coverage did not qualify for a paid claim.

As part of the conclusion of our analysis, we took an additional step and contacted our corporate insurance and asked them to review all information, details, and contract documents and determine what if any guidance we might provide. However; the lease documentation not only provided detailed information regarding what the resident should do regarding the selection of insurance for theft, water damage, fire, etc. to insure proper coverage for personal items - but also details that storage of items other than motor vehicles in a garage is strictly prohibited and any other items stored in this vicinity is in full violation of the signed agreement. And it was in regards to these details that our adjuster declared that we would be unable to assist any further.

At Mid-America Apartments we value our residents and work hard to provide quality homes and excellent service. We respond quickly to emergency and routine service requests. Patti and Jack's residency was very important to us and we appreciate their situation. However; we regret that we were unable to assist them further and in accordance with their legal contract, and have directed them to their insurance company for coverage questions and for details of policy that they hold.

The best advice, take a close look at the written lease. No matter what may be told to you in person, it's what's in writing that matters. Also, it's key to have renter's insurance when you are renting anything. Make sure you look at the policy to see what kind of protection you have.

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