Someone in your situation may not be liable, despite what they claim., under the doctrine of impossibility. Impossibility applies if the contract becomes impossible to perform, such as if the house burns down (as in literally what happened here) without the tenant or the landlord being at fault.
The common-law rule is stated in Restatement of Law, Contracts (vol. 2, § 454) as follows: "§ 454. Definition of impossibility. In the Restatement of this Subject impossibility means not only strict impossibility but impracticability because of extreme and unreasonable difficulty, expense, injury or loss involved."
In other words, this is when the contract is impossible to enforce, the tenant/buyer may be off the hook. Someone in your situation may wish to let the owner know of this via certified letter.
If the owner files suit against someone in your situation, "Impossibility" would then be an affirmative defense to their claim.
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