Basic law says that a tenant has a right to live in a safe and habitable place. So, if an apartment was damaged by a fire, it is the landlord’s responsibility for repairing the property as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, it is not always as straightforward as this. What if the tenant was negligent and the fire was his fault? Who is responsible to replace personal property? And what about your lease?
Tenant was negligent
The landlord cannot be expected to pay for damages if the apartment or home fire were caused by a tenant himself. If the landlord can prove that the tenant caused the fire, he can file suit for damages caused.
Personal items lost in a fire
Tenants are responsible for their own property in a rental unit. The only way to claim for lost items is through renter’s insurance. Call your company and file your claim.
It was the landlord’s negligence
The only way how a landlord can be responsible for lost items in a fire is when the fire was caused due to his negligence and the fire was something that he could have prevented.
But the tenant has to have evidence that the landlord knew about the problem beforehand. A building inspector had come out, for example, and cited the landlord to update electrical wiring before the fire happened.
What about the rest of my lease?
If your house or the apartment were so damaged by a fire that it is now unfit to live in, you have the right to leave and stop paying rent. Your local health department will have to issue a report to support your case.
Usually, if you were not responsible for the fire, you are up to date with your rental payments and the property will take more than a year to repair, no-one can force you to keep up the rental agreement and you are allowed to cancel.
A fire on a property can bring out the worst in people. Landlords try to charge tenants for the cost of repairs, even if the fire was not their fault. Finding evidence and paperwork to support your story can be a nightmare.
We have experienced attorneys that have dealt with these matters before. Please contact us – we can help.
Reach out to schedule a free consultation with us today. (818)507-8525; info@KJTLawGroup.com.