Ground floor and garden level apartments, as well as homes in low-lying areas, are at a much higher risk for sewage backups, especially when the weather turns rainy. It's a risk few tenants think of when selecting an apartment.
Worse yet, many renters and homeowners are unaware their insurance may not cover sewage backups and floods.
Daimond Robinson and her three children are now in a desperate situation after a sewage backup in her ground floor unit at the Southview Apartments in Oxon Hill that began Saturday morning.
Robinson said her apartment has been rendered unhealthy and unlivable, and she is not covered by renters insurance that would cover her costs for a temporary place to stay and lost possessions.
When it comes to backups and floods, few renters are.
Renters, not landlords, are typically responsible for damage to possessions and the loss of use of an apartment, should disaster strike.
Renters insurance is meant to cover such losses. But many renters insurance policies do not cover sewage backups and floods. Additional coverage must be purchased, and ground floor tenants should be particularly mindful to ask about backup and flood coverage when buying insurance, according to David P. Gould of American Claims Management Services in Maryland.
Robinson said Southern Management, which operates her complex, has offered to find her a unit to move into, but that may take at least a week to arrange.
In the meantime, she has no place to go.
Southern Management has not responded to WUSA9's request for comments or more information.
Robinson complained that emergency maintenance workers took 24 hours to respond to the sewage flood that began Saturday evening.
She believes the cause of the flood was a building sewage line that got clogged with non-flushable baby wipes.
Because Robinson is on the ground floor, sewage from an uncounted number of units above her flooded her apartment.