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    onebaddude1968's Avatar
    onebaddude1968 Posts: 10, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Jan 24, 2010, 12:48 PM
    A landlord lives IN the same apartement that is caught on fire by negligence
    Not sure if I am posting in the right area first of all.
    A landlord living in the apartment complex he owns and rents attached units out in is smoking in bed and sets the entire complex up in a blaze. Tenets lose EVERYTHING! Can the tenet go after the landlord for careless or negligence? She had NO renters insurance but the fire trespassed on to her unit from the landlords unit and caught her unit on fire.
    I think there is some sort of liability on the landlords part due to how the fire was started. Any information or case law would be appreciated!
    {e-mail address removed}
    onebaddude1968's Avatar
    onebaddude1968 Posts: 10, Reputation: 1
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    #2

    Jan 24, 2010, 12:49 PM

    BTW this is in Michigan
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #3

    Jan 24, 2010, 01:49 PM

    Please don't post your email address - all answers will be posted here, on AMHD.

    Yes, the tenant can certainly sue the landlord. The question will be whether the damage was accidental (most likely) or intentional. It is worth the small filing fee IF you can PROVE, without a doubt, that that was the cause of the fire.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #4

    Jan 24, 2010, 01:55 PM

    Smoking in bed is negligent. So I believe the tenants would have a case. What I would suggest is that the tenants band together and hire an attorney to file suit.

    However, depending on how the ownership is setup liability may be limited. The owner may have also lost everything and there will be little or nothing for the tenants to collect.

    Also, it would have te proven that the landlord was smoking in bed. Did arson investigators put that in their report?
    onebaddude1968's Avatar
    onebaddude1968 Posts: 10, Reputation: 1
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    #5

    Jan 24, 2010, 02:16 PM
    I am told it was the "boyfriend" of the landlord. He out right admitted it during the investigation. I am assuming that the statement "landlord or agent" would encompass such a person in that capacity since he was living in the apartment WITH the landlord.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #6

    Jan 24, 2010, 02:26 PM

    Living with someone does not make someone else the person's agent.

    I'll be curious to see how this plays out. If I were the landlord I would take the position that although smoking in bed is not terribly smart it is not negligent and the fire was a result of error, similar to leaving a stove on and causing a fire. I'm not saying I would win - I'm just saying that would be my position.

    Did the landlord have insurance?

    And, again, PROVING something and alleging something are two different things.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #7

    Jan 24, 2010, 02:29 PM

    That changes the situation greatly. The landlord may not be held responsible for the negligence of a guest. He is a guest, not an agent. This may restrict any suit to be against the boyfriend not the landlord.This also may mean that any insurance the landlord has may be able to deny any claim.

    I have to ask why the tenant did not have renter's insurance? Its cheap and well worth it.
    onebaddude1968's Avatar
    onebaddude1968 Posts: 10, Reputation: 1
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    #8

    Jan 24, 2010, 03:44 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by ScottGem View Post
    That changes the situation greatly. The landlord may not be held responsible for the negligence of a guest. He is a guest, not an agent. This may restrict any suit to be against the boyfriend not the landlord.This also may mean that any insurance the landlord has may be able to deny any claim.

    I have to ask why the tenant did not have renter's insurance? Its cheap and well worth it.

    The renter had NO insurance. The fact is whether the "boyfriend" ever acted in any paid or unpaid capacity in ANY way to the rentals, maintenance or anything else to do with the complex. If so he could be held as "an agent".


    I know the Michigan Bar exam has this question which states that every lease contain the following ( 3-18:24 )

    DAMAGE TO TENANT'S PROPERTY AND INSURANCE: Landlord does not provide any insurance coverage for the Tenantís property. Unless caused by the Landlord, Landlordís agent's or employee's willful or grossly negligent actions, the Landlord, the Landlordís agents and/or employees shall not be responsible for any theft, damage, loss or destruction of personal property of the Tenant or Tenant's occupants, guests, licensees, invitees or agents due to fire, water, flooding, other casualty, or act of God. TENANTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO INSURE PERSONAL PROPERTY IN AN AMOUNT SUFFICIENT TO COVER THE PROPERTY

    I need to find out to what capacity the BF could actually play in the roll of the apartment complex. I will get back to you when I do find out. I believe if we can some how prove it was a "live-in" boyfriend it would be hard for him to break away from the presumption that he was an "Agent" whether on payroll or not!
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    onebaddude1968 Posts: 10, Reputation: 1
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    #9

    Jan 24, 2010, 03:47 PM

    I am not an attorney, I do know what the laws say. The problem is I am unsure of the "strictness" of the interpretation by the courts. I am aware some laws are more strictly followed than others. I have successfully beat off the Michigan Treasury Department and many others in the past years and have always prevailed. But I am more familiar with government laws then this type of tort laws.
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    onebaddude1968 Posts: 10, Reputation: 1
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    #10

    Jan 24, 2010, 03:50 PM
    Another issue is whether the landlord can be assumed to be Negligent directly by ALLOWING the person to smoke in their home especially in the bedroom.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #11

    Jan 24, 2010, 04:05 PM

    First, you are looking at the wrong part of that cite. For the boyfriend to be considered an agent, he would have to be legally employed by the landlord. Second the key is willful or grossly negligent. You will be hard pressed to show that. I believe someone smoking in bed would be considered negligence, but not necessarily willful or gross. Definitely not willful since I doubt if he intended to burn the complex down. Gross will be hard to prove for similar reasons. And yes I'm backing off my original answer.

    And no, I doubt if the landlord can be considered negligent for allowing someone to smoke in their apartment.

    I would also point out the part that advises tenants' to obtain their own insurance. Even if a court does find the landlord negligent, I believe they will not have full liability. I believe the tenant will be required to assume some liability because they did not protect themselves.
    twinkiedooter's Avatar
    twinkiedooter Posts: 12,172, Reputation: 1054
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    #12

    Jan 24, 2010, 04:12 PM

    You can purchase renter's insurance for about $25 a month. There is no excuse not to have it being that cheap to buy. All renters need to buy this insurance as trying to sue the landlord or whoever started the fire/flood is going to be a very hard uphill battle.
    onebaddude1968's Avatar
    onebaddude1968 Posts: 10, Reputation: 1
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    #13

    Jan 24, 2010, 05:50 PM
    Willful act: [T]he actor has intentionally done an act of an unreasonable character in disregard of a known or obvious risk that was so great as to make it highly probable that harm would follow, and which thus is usually accompanied by a conscious indifference to the consequences.

    Smoking in bed fits that definition.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #14

    Jan 24, 2010, 06:06 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by onebaddude1968 View Post
    Smoking in bed fits that definition.

    Good, you can look words up in the dictionary. I don't think this is what the Court is going to decide but apparently you do so go ahead, sue, let us know what the result is.

    I'm a liability investigator.
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    onebaddude1968 Posts: 10, Reputation: 1
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    #15

    Jan 24, 2010, 06:09 PM

    That was the LEGAL definition in the state of Michigan, not out of a dictionary. Just seems there should be some recourse here. I mean what if someone had died, do they simply just say I am sorry and walk away?
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #16

    Jan 24, 2010, 06:12 PM

    I know you don't believe me but that definition does NOT meet the circumstances you have posted. I don't see that smoking in bed has a highly probable risk - risky yes. Stupid, maybe so. Highly probable in the eyes of the law? I don't think so.

    No one died so your question is moot. "What ifs" are not part of the legal system.

    Again, you believe you are right and believe you have a legal definition as proof. Sue, take your proof to Court, let us know what the Judge decides. There's no other way to know if you do or do not have a case.
    onebaddude1968's Avatar
    onebaddude1968 Posts: 10, Reputation: 1
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    #17

    Jan 24, 2010, 06:13 PM
    As a side note: LOL I did my own divorce 5 yrs ago and not only did I save a lot of money, I got FULL custody of my children and everything I went after. I have been fried by attorneys before in the past and like to do research on my own if all possible first. But it was not what I did in the court room that won me custody it was all the other stuff that most lawyers will NOT tell you that helped me gain custody.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #18

    Jan 24, 2010, 06:15 PM

    Good for you. Now act as your own Attorney in this matter, come back and let us know how it plays out.

    And what "other stuff" that most Lawyers do not tell "us" helped you gain custody?

    I'd like to know how much time I wasted in law school.
    onebaddude1968's Avatar
    onebaddude1968 Posts: 10, Reputation: 1
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    #19

    Jan 24, 2010, 06:30 PM
    I understand that the INSURANCE may not pay. I am trying to find out if the liability may fall directly and PERSONALLY on the boyfriend or the landlord themselves. I have seen cases where people have "unintentionally" started a fire while smoking in bed, they were sued and made to pay for the damage. (they were actually sued BY insurance carrier to recoup the loss).

    Insurance will only pay were coverage applies and is purchased.
    Sometimes not even then!
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #20

    Jan 24, 2010, 06:32 PM

    It is time to close this thread - OP is using it as a chat site, arguing, not listening.

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