Tenant Grease Fire Last Night

3 Replies

Today we were notified that a great fire occurred at one of our rental properties around midnight last night. The tenant put the fire out, but it has destroyed the stove and cabinets above it, and coated the entire house with smoke damage. Since today is a Saturday I’ve called my insurance agent and left a message, but am curious if anyone has experience in a situation like this. Since the fire was due to negligence by the tenant what is their responsibility to pay for damages? I do have a clause in my lease that allows me to terminate the lease if the property becomes inhabitable, so I plan on doing that, but am unsure the timing involved in cutting ties with the tenant.

My condolences. Not an easy situation.

Renter's Insurance - Do you require it?  Did your tenant have it?  It has three-fold importance. First, to cover the tenant's liability for damage to your property (Liability). Second, to cover the loss they incurred regarding their personal belongings (Personal Property) and third, the cost of temporary housing (Additional Living Expenses).

Landlord's Insurance - Your insurance agent will sort out who is culpable and claim against the tenant's renters insurance policy if that is an option. Now is a good time to review your policy. Ask your agent "What are the next steps?" and "What can we expect?"

Community Support - The Fire Department and American Red Cross will be able to provide you and your tenant with information and resources to help you through this crisis. Reach out to them. Your local rental association may also have some insight for approaching this kind of situation, relevant to the landlord-tenant laws for your jurisdiction. And of course, the wisdom of BP members too!

Thank you Marcia, ideally I would be plugged into a local rental association, but I guess this is a good time to start! Thanks for your insight.

I had a similar bad experience. I replaced the stove and kept them there which was a mistake on my part.  I was not getting the rent on time. I had them evicted finally and they took the rest of appliances and ruined the flooring as well. As a landlord you need to provide a fire extinguisher. You need to explain how it works and smoke alarm should go off. 

This is also an opportunity to find better tenants. In my case, it was a 4 year new house. I lost all my appliances when they moved out and I went to muni-court fight for it. To get around the judgement the minister tenant filed bankruptcy.  This predates credit score days and I was a poor judge on people who claimed they were ministers. Two years later they were after another landlord as I was getting calls from other eviction services.

In your case you should inform them they are asked to vacate as soon as possible normally 30 days or what the local law states.

On the grease many people dumped into sewer and clogged up the piping. You need to teach them to put inside a container as trash.  

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