What Happens If A House You're Renting Burns Down In Texas?
House fires and apartment fires are unfortunately common, especially in Texas. They're associated with injuries, loss of lives and properties and it's no wonder why they are every landlord's nightmare.
A house fire can be a devastating and traumatic experience for both the homeowner and the tenant. However, it is more complicated for the tenants who rented the property. That's why as a tenant, you need to understand your rights and responsibilities, as well as the steps you need to take to protect yourself and your property in such situations.
As a tenant in Texas, you have the right to a safe and habitable living environment. This means that the landlord is responsible for maintaining the property and ensuring that it is free from hazardous conditions such as fire accidents.
But if a fire occurs, you're expected to call your insurance company to see if your renter's insurance covers your losses. If it does, your insurance company will compensate you and help you recover your property.
However, there are some cases where your insurance may try to play tricks on you by unjustly denying your claim. When such happens, know that there's help available.
At Voss Law Firm here in Texas, we have all the professional help you need. Our experienced insurance claim attorneys will assist you till you get every benefit you deserve. Call us today at 1-888-614-7730 for a free consultation.
Now, let's take a look at the steps you need to take, as well as the responsibilities of landlords and tenants when a fire burns down the house you are renting in Texas.
Steps To Take When A House You're Renting Burns Down In Texas
First and foremost, you're expected to evacuate the property as quickly as possible. As soon as you and your family are far away from the fire, call 911 immediately and follow any instructions from the fire department or other emergency personnel. Do not attempt to put out the fire yourself as this could put your safety at risk.
Once you have safely evacuated the property, you should contact your landlord or property manager to inform them of the fire. They'll need to know the extent of the damage and will likely be involved in any insurance claim or other legal proceedings that may result from the fire.
In Texas, landlords are required to put the property in a safe and habitable condition which includes; having working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. However, landlords are not expected to provide insurance coverage for their tenants' personal property. Which means tenants have to purchase renters insurance to protect their belongings.
If the fire was caused by the landlord's negligence such as failing to maintain the smoke detectors or fire extinguishers, the tenant may have grounds for a legal claim against the landlord.
If after the fire and the property is not habitable, the landlord must find alternative housing for the tenant or terminate the lease.
In cases where the property can be repaired, the tenant is entitled to continue living in the property if it is safe and livable. But if it cannot be repaired, the landlord must return any security deposit to the tenant.
If the fire was caused by the tenant's negligence such as improperly disposing of smoking materials or leaving cooking food unattended, the tenant may be responsible for covering the cost of repairs or rebuilding the property.
If the fire was caused by circumstances outside of the tenant's or the landlord's control like an electrical fire, the cost of repairs may be covered by insurance. Additionally, if the fire results in a total loss of the property, the landlord's insurance policy will likely cover the cost of rebuilding the property.
Regardless of who is responsible for the fire, it is important to keep detailed records of any expenses related to the fire including the cost of alternative housing, any out-of-pocket expenses, and any other costs incurred as a result of the fire. This information will be useful in any insurance claim or legal proceeding that may arise from the fire.
How To Determine Who Is Liable For The Damage
Determining whether a fire in a rental property in Texas was due to a landlord's negligence or a tenant's negligence requires a thorough investigation. The process often involves collecting and analyzing evidence, interviewing witnesses, and consulting experts.
1. Examining The Damage
The purpose of examining the damage is to determine the cause of the fire, assess the extent of the damage, and determine who is responsible for covering the cost of repairs. The process is typically done by the insurance company. They'll examine the damage and give an estimate on the amount of money that'll cover the losses as well as determine who is responsible for the damage.
2. Collect Evidence
The first step in determining the cause of a fire is to gather evidence. This may include photographs of the damage, the fire department's report, and any other relevant documents or physical evidence that can help to identify the cause of the fire.
3. Interview Witnesses
It is also important to interview any witnesses to the fire, including the tenant, neighbors, and any other individuals who may have information about the fire. This information can be used to help determine the cause of the fire and who is responsible.
4. Review Relevant Laws And Regulations
In Texas, landlords are required to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition. This includes providing functioning smoke detectors and fire extinguishers and maintaining electrical, heating, and plumbing systems. If the fire was due to the landlord's failure to comply with these requirements, the tenant may have a valid claim against the landlord.
5. Evaluate The Tenant's Actions
If the fire was due to the tenant's actions such as improperly disposing of smoking materials or leaving cooking food unattended, the tenant may be responsible for covering the cost of repairs. In this case, the landlord would likely seek compensation from the tenant's insurance policy or the tenant directly.
6. Determine If The Fire Was Due To Circumstances Outside Of Either Party's Control
In some cases, the fire may have been due to circumstances outside of either the tenant's or the landlord's control such as an electrical fire or a natural disaster. In this scenario, the cost of repairs may be covered by insurance. The insurance company would conduct its investigation to determine the cause of the fire and who is responsible for covering the cost of repairs.
When To Contact Our Texas-Based Attorneys
Having fire destroy our personal belongings can be an ugly and frustrating experience. More frustrating is when some insurance companies are not willing to help us recover our loss by honouring our claim. Instead, they look for dirty reasons to deny them. It ought not to be so. Listen, if you feel your claim is being unfairly delayed or denied, know that there's help available.
At the Voss Law Firm, our insurance claim attorneys are passionate about helping policyholders recover their claims. They'll fight and stand by you till you get every compensation you are entitled to. All you've to do is call us today at 1-888-614-7730 for a free consultation.