Mount Pleasant, MI asked in Contracts, Real Estate Law, Insurance Defense and Landlord - Tenant for Michigan

Q: Who is responsible in case of an accidental apartment fire?

My roommates and I recently had a kitchen fire in the apartment due to turning on the wrong burner. The lessor replaced the appliances, brought in a cleaning crew, and then billed us! We were not given any chance to hire/buy anything ourselves. Are we liable for the bill? Note, it does NOT state who is responsible for fire damage in our lease, except that the lessor is not responsible for the destruction of the lessees property; which isnt what I am trying to fight. Help!

2 Lawyer Answers
Thomas. R. Morris
Thomas. R. Morris
Answered
  • Farmington Hills, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: I would look more closely at the lease. You may be responsible to return the property undamaged at the conclusion of the lease. That clause, I suspect, imposes liability on you. Sorry to not have a favorable answer. Were the fire to have been the fault of the equipment supplied by the landlord, you would have a better case, but that’s not the cause of the fire from your version.

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Howell, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: I agree with Mr Morris, but would add that insurance may have some alternate solutions for you. Did you have renter's insurance or does the landlord's insurance cover negligent acts of tenants? If so, you may be able to pass through liability to your insurance carrier(s) ....

Without seeing the lease in detail, it is impossible to say, but I tend to agree the return of property in as good a condition as it was in at the time you leased it is implicit in most every lease. If the repairs were 'over the top' cost-wise you may be able to argue things, but ultimately, that may not help much.

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