Rent-to-own property after a natural disaster
If you have rent-to-own furniture or electronics that were damaged by a natural disaster:
Report the damage right away to the company that is renting the property to you
Review your rental contract to see if it includes terms regarding your rights and responsibilities if the property is damaged due to a natural disaster
You should photograph the damaged property to document the damage caused by the natural disaster
Store damaged property out of the house if there are safety issues (including mold)
FEMA assistance may cover rent-to-own furniture and appliances for renters and homeowners alike. File a claim by calling 1-800-621-3362 or visiting www.disasterassistance.gov. An agent will determine what items were flood damaged and pay a reasonable replacement amount for necessary "basic" furniture and appliances. For example, only one TV is basic, but not stereo equipment; one refrigerator is basic, but not an additional freezer; dining table and chairs are basic but not a full dining room set. No matter what, if your furniture or appliances have been damaged by the flood, file the claim.
This type of relief for furniture/appliances is available one time. Renters insurance policies are available from FEMA to cover furniture/appliances for a future occurrence. You may qualify to have FEMA pay your premiums for the first three years.
If you need more advice about your rights and your rental contract, or if a rent-to-own company threatens to sue you or take other legal action related to your furniture rental contract, contact Legal Aid of NC, (1-866-219-5262).