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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 118809
Experience:  Attorney with over 24 years experience.
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I had a fire in my apartment on Memorial Day. All my contents

Customer Question

I had a fire in my apartment on Memorial Day. All my contents were destroyed and I lost 2 of my boston terriers. My renters policy and the apts and managements investigators have determined it was an electrical fire but uncertain how.
I had a 2 yr lease and had been in the unit for 5 months. My renters insurance was $20,000 contents and /$500000 for liability. My losses far exceeded my renters policy but I also had o homeowners policy that covered an additional 10% plus debrie removal which has helped.
My questions are:
1) Does the apt have to return my security deposit?
2) they want me to sign a release so they can begin reconstruction
3) if the issue of cause is undetermitable can I collect anything from the apartment carriers
4) what else should I be aware of.
I am a family law attorney and have never had to deal with this situation. Thank you in advance
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
1) If the fire was not through your fault, then the complex has to return the deposit to you. As you did not cause the damage you would not be liable for that damage. The security deposit is to cover damage caused by the tenant.
2) What are they seeking a release for and what does it say?
3) Most commercial insurance policies are not liable for contents of tenant from accidental damage, but you would have to get their policy to see what it covers. Typically though they would not have coverage for your contents.
4) Only if you can prove negligence on the part of the apartment owner could you seek to recover from them for that negligence (but if the fire department is not able to determine cause, proving negligence would likely be impossible I am afraid).
5) They are also liable to either pay for you to live somewhere else during the reconstruction, let you out of your lease or suspend your rent, at the choice of the landlord.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.
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