What to do if I rented a duplex that caught fire and was damaged to the point that it was unlivable?

UPDATED: Oct 24, 2013

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What to do if I rented a duplex that caught fire and was damaged to the point that it was unlivable?

Most of my belonging were damaged or destroyed due to water/fire/smoke damage. My neighbor was the one who, through careless smoking, started the fire (as determined in the cause of fire report). What kind of options should I be looking at?

Asked on October 24, 2013 under Personal Injury, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Best option: if you have renter's insurance that would cover all or most of your loss, put in a claim--that's what insurance is for--and let your insurer then seek reimbursement from the neighbor.

If you can't or don't want to put in a claim, then if you believe your neighbor caused the fire and your losses through his negligence (unreasonable carelessness), you could sue him for compensation: i.e. for the cost to repair what could be repaired, for the value of anything destroyed, for other out-of-pocket costs (like staying at a hotel), etc.

Your landlord would not be financially liable for the careless acts of another tenant or adjacent property owner (if the neighbor owned his unit).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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