Ask Experts Questions for FREE Help !
    ramatae's Avatar
    ramatae Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Aug 24, 2006, 03:46 PM
    Fire Damage to Apartment - Landlord using to upgrade apartment
    Earlier this year my apartment was minimally damaged by a fire. The exact cause of the fire is unknown, however it is believed that my cat knocked something onto the stove which then turned on and burned the basket. Fire damage to the apartment was restricted to the kitchen stove area. Smoke damage in the kitchen was extensive in the kitchen, but elsewhere in the apartment nothing was damaged by smoke or by fire. I have no renters insurance and live in Michigan.

    The landlord stated that we owed approximately $4,500 in damages, and provided us with an itemized list of damages. On that list, were items that were never in the apartment to begin with (i.e. a dishwasher), and other items that were not damaged were replaced. In my own estimate, I believe the damages and costs of cleaning are closer to $1500

    I believe that the apartment complex is trying to use this incident to upgrade the apartment--at my expense. I have written a letter to the management company stating my disagreement with the charges, they responded and took off the items that were not in the apartment. However, they still charged us for items that were originally in the apartment but not damaged.

    They have threatened with collections. I do not want my credit ruined and am willing to pay for what I am responsible for, but they are not accepting my offers of compromise.

    Please advise.
    CaptainForest's Avatar
    CaptainForest Posts: 3,645, Reputation: 393
    Ultra Member

    Aug 24, 2006, 05:12 PM

    They can NOT do that.

    First, they must SUE you in court.

    Then, if they win, they can collect.

    If you are in the right here, explain this to a judge when you get served with a law suit.

    Or, send them a letter offering to settle now for $1,500. Maybe they will accept. And if they accept, get it in writing!
    LUNAGODDESS's Avatar
    LUNAGODDESS Posts: 467, Reputation: 40
    Full Member

    Aug 24, 2006, 05:15 PM
    Captain forest is correct...
    Cvillecpm's Avatar
    Cvillecpm Posts: 553, Reputation: 28
    Senior Member

    Aug 24, 2006, 05:41 PM
    Renter's insurance cost less than $10 per month... never rent without it.

    That said, the property owner has already claimed damage charges on their insurance. If you don't pay the amount they want AND get a waiver of subrogation (talk to an attorney), the owner's insurance company can come back against you AGAIN as the cause of the fire. Just because the fire marshall has not said it was your fault does not mean the owner's insurance won't see it as your fault... you had custody, care and control of the unit and the operation of the stove was in your control.

    In any discussion with owner/property management co, indicate you want a waiver of subrogation so that you don't get sued by their insurance company... it happens all the time and is a disaster for your credit.

    Renter's insurance - never rent without it.
    RickJ's Avatar
    RickJ Posts: 7,762, Reputation: 864
    Uber Member

    Aug 25, 2006, 03:08 AM
    Let me add something to this. In the U.S. Yes, the landlord can bill you and yes he can place the account for collections without sueing you.

    That doesn't make it right, though.

    I'd not want to wait for harm (credit harm) to come to this then dispute it; I'd see an attorney.

    In my area attorneys will do a short initial consultation at no cost. Take the bill to an attorney and ask him flat out what you should do.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
    Computer Expert and Renaissance Man

    Aug 25, 2006, 05:38 AM
    Two questions. 1) Do you have any pictures or statements about the extent of the damage? 2) What is the difference after they removed the disputed items?

    If you do not have proof of the extent of the damages, then I would not try to fight it. The landlord will simply present bills from the contractors who will, most likely say they needed to fix certain things because of unseen or collateral damage.

    Without evidence of the damage, your only recourse is the fact they tried to pad the bill with items that weren't there. But that could easily be explained as a error, especially since they fixed it immediately after you reported it.

    I would try once more to settle, maybe agree to pay something each month towards the total. But if they refuse, pay up and chalk it off to experience. I can see little likelihood of your prevailing in court oin this. Then RUN to an insurance agent and purchase renters insurance.
    ramatae's Avatar
    ramatae Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Aug 28, 2006, 12:40 PM
    Thank you very much for the quick responses.

    Yes, we have pictures as proof of the damage, and I have consulted with an attorney who states similar arguments as those you have given above--but not much of a plan for action. He did not say whether they could take us to collections before a suit.

    We tried to compromise (via a letter) with the landlord for $1500 and they would not accept. We have a meeting with the management company this week where we will try to settle. The apartment complex stated in the beginning that there was not enough damage to the unit to make a claim to the insurance company. Knowing this, is there any way after we settle that someone could come after us for the "rest" of the initial amount? The attorney did not mention anything about subrogation.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
    Computer Expert and Renaissance Man

    Aug 28, 2006, 12:58 PM
    A settlement generally includes language that prevents the parties involved from pursuing any further action. You might want to ensure that they include wording that they will not be filing an insurance claim.
    s_cianci's Avatar
    s_cianci Posts: 5,472, Reputation: 760
    Uber Member

    Aug 30, 2006, 12:34 PM
    See if you can get some sort of documentation, in the way of an inspection, stating that the undamaged items in question don't need to be replaced or repaired. Better yet, get 2 ; one from an inspector of your choosing and one from an inspector of the landlord's choosing. Depending on the cost you can pay the expenses yourself or insist that the landlord share the cost with you. Since this appears to be the only unresolved issue, it should be fairly easy to deal with if these items are in fact intact like you claim.

Not your question? Ask your question View similar questions


Question Tools Search this Question
Search this Question:

Advanced Search

Add your answer here.

Check out some similar questions!

Landlord showing apartment while occupied [ 10 Answers ]

Does anyone know if it is legal for a landlord to show an apartment while it is still occupied. I have satisfied my lease and am moving in 30 days. She keeps giving my telephone number to people who are calling me wanting to view. I told her to stop so now she is going to just show the place...

New apartment [ 3 Answers ]

Hi, I'm going to move in to a new studio (one room apartment) in couple of months and I really want To make it look good witout using a lot of money. I've looked at some examples in magazines and I Wonder if I should decorate my room in an extreme Fancy way that I like (such as leopard...

Apartment Lease Buy-Out in NYC [ 2 Answers ]

The building that I now live in has just recently been sold. (New York City location) The management of the new owners has approached me for a meeting to discuss a possible buy-out of my existing lease. I still have 1 year left on my lease, paying rent that is well below the market rate. ...

Apartment rental [ 1 Answers ]

Greetings. I live in an apartment complex in Volusia County, in Florida. I have never signed a lease where I reside, and I assume that this makes me month to month, and have lived here 9 months thus far. I have been complaining about a leak from my air conditioner and its poor functioning for quite...

Bugs in apartment [ 7 Answers ]

Hello. Does anyone know if I can terminate a lease early, with NO consequences, if I have bugs in my apartment, and the landlord knows about it, and is NOT doing anything about it? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

View more questions Search