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  1. #1
    fburke is offline Member
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    Tenant Caused kitchen fire

    What is the name of your state? Ma

    Saturday I completed installing a brand new forced hot water heating system piping and all in one of my rental units because her old gas on gas stove failed and you can’t replace them in the my state. Once the unit was in I put in a brand new gas stove. All work was done by a licensed plumber and inspected.

    Last night I get a call that my house was on fire! I go there and find some nice firemen had carried out my brand new stove that was all melted and chard on the top and put it on my front lawn.

    The cause from what the fire captin said was the tenant ran the self cleaning cycle and had left some items on the top of the stove that flared up and left the unit to go to her mothers house.. DAAA are you stupid? Not only leaving the unit with the stove on but leaving items right in the path of the heat vent!

    Then I find that all the batteries had been taken out of the smoke detectors and CO2 detectors. I know these were fine 3 months ago when I had a yearly inspection I had just changed them and all units were working fine.

    Well bottom line is no one got hurt and other then some soot damage there isn’t any structural or water damage.

    Now my issue is my tenant “doesn’t agree” with the fire captains report of the cause she believes it was a faulty stove (story changed from last night ...and after talking with her mother)… I think she should be liable for the clean up and replacement of the stove. As the landlord I have to get this done so she can get back in there but I would like to have her reimburse me either by choice or by legal force.

    Do I have any grounds to go after the tenant?
  2. #2
    OHlandlord is offline Member
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    Get a copy of the official report from the fire marshall. Then turn it in to your insurance company. Once you explain that the fire was caused by the tenant and the report says so, they will pursue the tenant for the damages. The report should state that items were left on the stove, that the stove had been left on, that the tenant then left (was not home), and that there were no batteries in the fire and smoke detectors. If the tenant disputes these items in the fire marshall's report, she can hire her own fire investigator to come up with another cause. You can bet the insurance company will investigate it, then they will sue the tenant.
  3. #3
    fburke is offline Member
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    There is not much damage other then the clean up and stove replacement. I have a thousand dollar deductible so I don’t want to put in a claim on my insurance I just figured I would suck it up and I would pay out of pocket for now.
  4. #4
    Alaska landlord is offline Senior Member
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    If the stove is still functional and does not present a fire hazard I would roll it back into the house. She doesn’t like it that’s just too bad. I would also go after her for all smoke and fire associated damages. She wouldn't get a new stove till I got paid.
  5. #5
    FarmerJ is offline Senior Member
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    Even without going to your insurance If you have a fire marshalls report when you sue her in small claims court do you think a judge will seriously consider any thing she offers as a excuse ?
  6. #6
    fburke is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska landlord View Post
    If the stove is still functional and does not present a fire hazard I would roll it back into the house. She doesn’t like it that’s just too bad. I would also go after her for all smoke and fire associated damages. She wouldn't get a new stove till I got paid.
    Unfortunately the stove was destroyed and there is a bit of cleaning needed my professional cleaners, and maybe some paint.

    I am legally obligated to replace the stove and do the clean up at this time to make the unit habitable I am willing to pay out of pocket but just hope to be able to recover from her if the fire was determined to be her fault.
  7. #7
    Alaska landlord is offline Senior Member
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    Can't you find a stove somewhere for about 75.00? You know she will slip out the backdoor if she thinks she will have to pay. I hope you have a good security deposit.
  8. #8
    fburke is offline Member
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    can i use her security deposit for this if she doesn't pay me if she is at fault?
  9. #9
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    Does your tenant have renters insurance? If so, you could file a claim with them.
  10. #10
    OHlandlord is offline Member
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    I'd get the fire marshall's report. Once you have that which says she is at fault, I would charge her for the destroyed stove and the clean-up. Itemize the clean-up, the painting, and the stove by receipts (I'd buy a used stove as a temporary replacement as Alaska LL said. No use putting another new one in there as long as she's still there.) Send her a bill for the damages, along with copies of the receipts (remember to use the original destroyed stove receipt, not the replacement one), and tell her it is payable with her next rent. If she disappears suddenly, you can subtract the damges from the deposit.
  11. #11
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    You did provide the tenant with the instruction manual, right? (Just looking at possible defenses they may bring up.)
  12. #12
    poohluvr is offline Junior Member
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    Nothing legal like here, but a question.
    Why the heck was she running a cleaning cycle after having it for less than a week?!?!?!?
  13. #13
    Alaska landlord is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by fburke View Post

    Then I find that all the batteries had been taken out of the smoke detectors and CO2 detectors. I know these were fine 3 months ago when I had a yearly inspection I had just changed them and all units were working fine.
    Always a good source of batteries when you're out.
  14. #14
    aabbcc is offline Member
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    Why the heck was she running a cleaning cycle after having it for less than a week?!?!?!?
    Excellent point. Perhaps tenant is very dirty.

    I would go after tenant for damages.

    The Fire Captain is an expert employed by the Government. The only way the tenant can dispute this is by getting his/her own private fire investigator to say it was not their fault. Not likely to happen as this would cost the tenant thousands of dollars.
    Last edited by aabbcc; 12-22-2007 at 07:51 AM.
  15. #15
    acmb05 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zigner View Post
    You did provide the tenant with the instruction manual, right? (Just looking at possible defenses they may bring up.)
    Good point because she could easily say " no one told me I could not have anything on top of the stove while it was in cleaning mode". (just think of the moron who sued McDonalds for the hot coffee)

    As far as the batteries being out of the detectors it would not have really mattered since no one was home to hear them go off anyway.

    On a side note, I use my ovens self cleaning once a week and occasionally leave while it is running. Not much chance of fire unless I leave something on it like this person did.

    Accidents happen, however it is the tenants responsibility to cover any damages that ocured to the stove and unit.

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