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.