Unfortunately apartment fires happen, and they often happen when we least expect it. When apartment fires occur tenants are often left without a home.
This was illustrated recently when a December apartment fire left eighteen people displaced in south Fort Worth.
Apartment fires can often be deadly.
In early March, an apartment fire in Granbury took the life of one man. This man died trying to save his three dogs from his burning apartment.
Others who were living in neighboring apartments had to jump from their second story of the building in order to survive the fire. One elderly individual was rescued from her apartment.
Many individuals reported that their smoke detector did not alert them that there was a fire.
Apartment fires can spread quickly and can destroy resident’s homes within a couple of hours. This article discusses some of the basic things that you should do after a fire, and places apartment fires in the context of your rights as a tenant.
If you have any questions about this article, you should contact the experienced lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy.
We are happy to help clients in their fight for justice.
What should I do after a fire?
There are three main things that you should do after a fire.
First, you should make a list of everything that was damaged. Attempt to construct a list that details the value of each item that you lost.
Next, you should make sure that you get a copy of the fire inspectors report. This report will detail how the fire started and it can be essential for insurance purposes. The report can also be used to prove that the landlord was responsible for the damages.
Also, keep a copy of the fire inspectors contact information. Make sure that you take pictures apartment after the fire. These could be used later in the event that you have to file a lawsuit against your landlord.
Lastly, you should keep all of your correspondence with your landlord. Keep track of the estimates that your landlord give you when it comes to repair time.
You should also review your lease. It is possible that the lease dictates what happens in the event of a fire.
You may be able to argue that you have been constructively evicted from your apartment due to the fire.
You should contact an attorney if you have any questions about your lease or about the concept of constructive eviction.
What are my rights if l am a tenant?
Renters have many different responsibilities that they must fulfill. It is easy to remember that landlords also have responsibilities that must be met.
You have rights as a tenant and you should seek legal representation if you find yourself in a situation where your rights are being infringed upon.
There are a few rights that you have that you should be aware of.
First, you have a right to live in sanitary conditions. Your landlord must keep your apartment in a safe condition. The apartment must meet health and safety codes.
Your landlord should have a maintenance program and should respond to your requests for maintenance.
Your home should also be free from any sort of toxins such as lead paint and sewage. Your apartment should also have smoke detectors.
You also have a right to quiet enjoyment of your home. This means that you have the right to possess your apartment in peace without disturbance of others.
If you have a disability, you have a right to reasonable accommodations.
The landlord is legally obligated to allow you to make reasonable changes (at your expense) in order for you to be able live in the apartment.
The landlord is also required to make reasonable changes to rules of the apartment complex.
For example, if you need a service animal, but the apartment complex does not allow pets your landlord may be required to allow you to have pets in the apartment complex.
When can a landlord be responsible for a fire in an apartment?
There are three main reasons why a landlord could be responsible for an apartment fire.
First, as described above, landlords have a responsibility to ensure that your apartment is up to code. When the building is not up to code, the chances of it catching on fire increase.
This means that landlords could be at least partly responsible for a fire even if the landlord was contributory negligent.
In addition, sometimes landlords fail to install working smoke detectors. This does not necessarily mean that the landlord is directly responsible for the fire, but it could mean that the landlord is responsible for any damages that could have been prevented if the landlord had installed smoke detectors.
Landlords attempt to cut costs could come back to haunt them in the event of an apartment fire.
Further, landlords may attempt to control the temperature of the apartment. When the landlord does this the tenants are left with no other recourse except to resort to other methods of heating.
This means that the landlord could be responsible for the fire in this case.
The landlord will be responsible for paying for the damages if the landlord could have prevented the fire if there is evidence that the landlord knew that there was a chance that a fire could occur.
What should I do if I am injured in a fire?
Of course, the first thing you should do after a fire is seek medical help if need be.
If you have been injured in a fire you should contact an experienced attorney. Even if you believe that you are responsible for the fire you should speak to an attorney in order to determine whether you have any legal rights.
The lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy offer free case consultations to individuals who are seeking legal representation in apartment fire cases.
We are happy to meet with you to discuss your situation. Contact us today!