Fire in a kitchen in one of the unit need advise

14 Replies

One of my tenant in Sacramento had fire in the kitchen. He says previous owner gave him extension cord that started fire. Dont believe him. He put down the fire and called fire department 5 (approx) later. Kitchen and appliances has damage. Fire department says it not habitable and we need do fire remediation. Initial estimate remediation : $4800. + Repairs another $4800. Is it worth to involve my insurance company especially they are asking asbestos testing etc. Property is a 1950's built and possiblity is there they will find such material. my insurance deductible is $5000 Manu thanks for your response, Gary

Involve your insurance company immediately.   That's what you pay them for.  A $5k deductible is certainly cheaper than $9,600 you're currently looking at.  Also, you're going to need professional guidance when it comes to asbestos, so hence best to involve your carrier early on in the process.  And P.S.  Kick your idiot tenant to the curb at the end of his lease.  

@David Cruice thx. Got my insurance involved they are going all out to figure this out. My property manager recently renewed his lease, is there anyway I can let him go before lease term?

Ask your PM for his opinion on the situation.  If he's any good he'll have seen this before or will know someone who has.  You should be able to terminate the lease based on the fact that the unit is uninhabitable for an extended period of time.  Offer the tenant "cash for keys" (say $500 to start), plus his security deposit, to take a hike.  He'll most probably go for it or something a little bit higher. 

@Gary B. most kitchen fires are started by grease. You can usually identify the origin of the fire. I would ask the fire department, because they should note the cause. Where I am going with this is that if the fire was tenant negligence with cooking, then their renters insurance may pay. Or you may be able to go after the tenant for the deductible. 

I had a kitchen fire years ago and claimed it on my insurance. It didn't raise my insurance and they paid out with no issues. Kitchen fires are very common. In my case it was a tenant frying chicken on the stove top. 

@Gary B.

How extensive is the damage? Do you have pics you can share? 

I've been to many fire damaged properties, and aside from the physical damage caused by fire, you have the smell of smoke to deal with, and that may include the contents, cabinets, walls, floor, window frames, etc. 

Without seeing any pictures, my guess is, if the fire department said it's not habitable, there's enough restoration work that needs to be done and filing a claim with your insurance company alone is not enough. You need to get a Public Adjuster to represent you, advocating on your behalf. 

Also, find a fire damage restoration company, that also does the renovation themselves (the term they'll use is "rebuild" or "recon"). 

Restoration company will use Xactimate and submit the scope of work, line item by line item, including any work required to test and remediate asbestos/lead paint (most likely, they'll hire a 3rd party specialist to handle that), coordinate things with your Public Adjuster, and your PA will liaison between yourself and the insurance company's adjuster (the insurance adjuster has the insurance company's interest in mind, not yours, so don't think the amount they quoted you is what you'll be entitled to on the claim). 

Plus, during the restoration/renovation process, if unforeseen things are discovered, they'll submit a supplemental claim to account for any additional cost. (Believe me, you're not going to do all this on your own, nor would you want to.) 

Your PA can also allot for loss rent. 

So although initially this may seem like a set back, if you do it right, you'll end up with a brand new kitchen redone up to code, get your lost rent paid back from the insurance.  

That is a very small kitchen. Can easily be completed in a day or two. Not 10k of damage. I wouldn't involve my insurance for that. Forget the fact that it was a fire and replace some cabinets, a stove fan, and drywall. Not 10k. 

Maybe try calling some contractors and not "remediation experts"

I found out from fire report that fire was caused by tenant leaving the stove on. Is it possible to kick the tenant out or what my rights for the tenant?  I figured tenant was lying about the start of the fire.  

@Gary B.

Yeah, you can tell where the fire started. 

You have damage all throughout the kitchen; cabinets, floor, wall, behind the wall, ceiling, can't use the appliances, not to mention the smell of smoke that's permeated throughout. 

Fire damage is not only limited to things you can physically see; it's also things you can't see. Aside from that, what are you gonna do, replace 10 sq ft of the physically affected areas? You have to replace everything.  

I would find a Public Adjuster & a Restoration specialist (just Google a few). Although the PA will know the process, Restoration company will know things more in detail, since they're the ones doing the manual labor part, and often times can point out things missed by the PA or the insurance adjuster. 

With all due respect to those  downplaying the damage, I have to say @Johnny Kang is right on. Fire damage is far from limited to the immediate are of the fire. Smoke mitigation may extend throughout the whole unit--time to get the professionals to look at it.