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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 99428
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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I have a very unusual problem. On July 11th, 2016, there was

Customer Question

I have a very unusual problem. On July 11th, 2016, there was a fire started by a woman smoking in the apartment above me. She fell asleep, and due to her actions, which by the way cost her life! Her actions cost me everything that I owned. I had renters insurance, but that did not cover much of what I had to replace! There was nothing in my apartment that was not contaminated by this fire! I even got sick from entering into my old apartment and had to go to the hospital for an infection that happened after the fire. The fire itself was on the news. Is there anything that I can do to hold the landlord responsible for my loss? I had personally informed the manager of her smoking in her room, and nothing was ever done about it!
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Ely replied 2 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and this is one of these times.

The landlord is not responsible for the actions of their tenants. Ergo, the landlord is presumed not to be liable for the fire. It was her that started it, not him. He simply rented the property out to her (and you).

The only way that the landlord can be held liable is if someone in your situation can show that the fire system in place (if any) was not up to code, AND, because it was not up to code, you suffered more loss than you would have had it been up to code. If so, then the landlord would be liable under something called negligence per se (where a party meant to be protected by a statute or ordinance can sue another party not following said statute or ordinance).

Otherwise, the landlord is not liable. You can however sue the estate of the woman, which may have assets that can be taken for judgment.

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