Fire on porch of upper/lower duplex, what to do going forward.

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So I got a call on July 4th at 2:45am from a frazzled tenant. He says there was a fire but it is now out and the fire department is there. Now this was my first home and I fixed up nearly everything on this house. Met my wife and brought my son home from so it was probably the worst property it could happen to that way. I ask if there is a fire chief I can speak to and they just ask if I can come over and I yope in the truck and away I go.

Anyway the tenant threw cigarette butts into a plastic bucket on the front porch and that started the fire. He slept in the front living room that night and left the patio door openfor a breeze. This allowed the smoke to come in and set off the alarm and wake himup probably saving a heck of a lot more damage. 

I got a remediation company over there as the sun came up. I called my insurance representstive and the company got a hold of me later in the day and will send an adjusterout monday. The tenant downstairs does not have renters insurance but the onlymain issue is smoke smell in the house which surprizingly isn't that bad in the lowerunit but much worse in the upper unit. The upper tenant does have renters insurance.

Does the lower tenant hold any legal liability seeing that his action caused the fire. It was not intentional and not blatently negligent either. I am not gonna get the $10,000 in damage from him as the insurance will cover me however would I be able to get the deductible that I and my upstairs tenant incurs?

Any other guidance or information will be appreciated. I just hate not being able to startcleaning up stuff and putting it back together until the adjuster gets out here monday... Just one of the not so fun day in the life of a landlord...

So sorry this happened to you.  I would not touch anything until the insurance adjuster does their work, except what is necessary to mitigate further damage.  Your insurance company will probably seek damages from whoever they can rightly go after.

Going forward, do not rent to smokers, they are not a protected class.  Also require renter's insurance for all tenants, it is very inexpensive and quite valuable when events like this happen.  Good luck.

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