Real Estate

Fire Incident in uninsured rental unit - Need Legal advice

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  • May 21st, 2020 11:30 am
[OP]
Newbie
May 18, 2020
3 posts

Fire Incident in uninsured rental unit - Need Legal advice

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Last edited by trishadam on May 25th, 2020 5:56 pm, edited 5 times in total.
13 replies
Deal Fanatic
Mar 15, 2005
5422 posts
961 upvotes
What insurance company is asking for money? The landlord or the building association?

As a renter your insurance would only be for your contents and maybe some limited liability on the property, actual structural items would be your landlords property insurance and he should have notified his insurance company that he was using the unit as a rental.

May want to consult a lawyer regardless if you have been served with papers asking for millions.
Deal Addict
Sep 2, 2009
1099 posts
770 upvotes
Ottawa
Ziggy007 wrote: What insurance company is asking for money? The landlord or the building association?

As a renter your insurance would only be for your contents and maybe some limited liability on the property, actual structural items would be your landlords property insurance and he should have notified his insurance company that he was using the unit as a rental.

May want to consult a lawyer regardless if you have been served with papers asking for millions.
While the landlord's insurance may cover some things, they will go after the responsible party(ies) to recover *their* costs. Which is one of the reasons to have tenant insurance with some liability (insurance will front the money to their insurance holder then go after the person needed).

Same reason to have car insurance (if you are not self-insured - highly unlikely to be). Even if you hit someone with insurance, their insurance company will see if they can recoup their costs from the at-fault driver .
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 16, 2011
3930 posts
3479 upvotes
The NORTH
Legal advice from an internet forum? Best advice, contact a real lawyer. Post your location so someone can recommend a local lawyer.
Deal Addict
May 12, 2014
2599 posts
2321 upvotes
Montreal
On what basis does the expert report say that it was a cigarette from your unit which caused the fire?

You will not be able to "just get your name removed". You are being sued for millions. This will, at a minimum, require a lot of time and effort to fight.

Do you have any assets? It may be cheaper to consider bankruptcy. A good lawyer is needed ASAP.
Deal Addict
Jan 13, 2014
1647 posts
576 upvotes
Calgary
FrancisBacon wrote: On what basis does the expert report say that it was a cigarette from your unit which caused the fire?

You will not be able to "just get your name removed". You are being sued for millions. This will, at a minimum, require a lot of time and effort to fight.

Do you have any assets? It may be cheaper to consider bankruptcy. A good lawyer is needed ASAP.
Best advice.

it seems that the insurance company is holding your unit/you as liable for the fire.
Sr. Member
Jun 7, 2017
944 posts
678 upvotes
BC
FrancisBacon wrote: On what basis does the expert report say that it was a cigarette from your unit which caused the fire?

You will not be able to "just get your name removed". You are being sued for millions. This will, at a minimum, require a lot of time and effort to fight.

Do you have any assets? It may be cheaper to consider bankruptcy. A good lawyer is needed ASAP.
This is it.

You requested legal advice. Good call. Go get it.
Deal Addict
Jan 12, 2014
3234 posts
5807 upvotes
Laval
Don't not reply to any communications from anyone and get a lawyer, insurance companies will sue everyone involved to recover cost paid out.

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Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 23, 2008
11502 posts
7790 upvotes
Edmonton
trishadam wrote: Thanks for answering.

It’s building owner’s insurance company. The basis of claim is cigarette which I don’t even smoke so is it likely my name can be removed and my other room mate can fight since both our names were in lease. I have already contacted in lawyer but the process is bit slow and it’s scary and stressful to even think about it when I know I haven’t done anything.
As other's have said... Talk to a real lawyer for real legal advice. Stressing about it until you do will just give you ulcers without any possible solutions

As far as getting your "name removed", it doesn't work that easily, I don't think. You were on the lease, and are equally responsible for what happened, AFAIK.
https://ottawasun.com/life/homes/rental ... nt-tenancy

Basically, the landlord (and their insurer) can (I believe) go after all of the people on the lease for any damages that occurred. As stated in the newspaper article above, it's not just rent that you're jointly on the hook for... It's also damages. So the insurance company is putting everyone's name on the lawsuit so they can try to collect as much as possible.

I take it there was no tenant's insurance for either you or your roommate? And did you review your lease to see that it actually was required (not that it really matters, but it just removes any doubt that you should have had that in place)?

C
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 23, 2008
11502 posts
7790 upvotes
Edmonton
trishadam wrote: Hi Guys,

I have a question. Last year a fire broke out in our building and affected all the nearby appartments. Fire actually started in one of the balcony.. After a year, we got a notice from insurance company asking for millions that the fire happened due to negligence of us and it was due to cigarette according to expert report. Also according to lease, tenants should have insurance and are liable for smoke damage, etc.

Now I used to live with room mate at that time and I dont even smoke. We both didnt have insurance at that time and the other room mate was sleeping 4 hours before fire happened and was not even smoking at that time. On the other hand, I dont smoke at all and I was out whole day and came home close to midnight when actually fire started at the back of our building. I am not sure why am I even being dragged in this one as I don't even smoke. Is it possible possible to have my name removed my name atleast from it and room mate can fight for himself as I am sure she also hasn't done anything.

Thanks
BTW, here's another blog post by a lawyer who specializes in landlord/tenant law:
https://ontariolandlordandtenantlaw.blo ... NHKsk0Gvsp

Basically, he reiterates multiple times in this post and the questions that follow that all the people on the lease are liable to the landlord for damages that are caused, no matter who caused it. If you feel like you end up paying for damages you didn't cause (like, after the court case is done and your pockets have been emptied out, and there's proof that the fire was caused by your roommate's cigarette), you COULD sue your roommate for YOUR damages. However... Your roommate would likely be bankrupted by the lawsuit that you both just lost, and trying to sue someone who's just as broke as you are is a fool's game. Even if you win, you lose, because you'll never collect anything.

C
Deal Fanatic
Jul 3, 2011
5768 posts
2931 upvotes
Thornhill
trishadam wrote: Now I used to live with room mate at that time and I dont even smoke. We both didnt have insurance at that time and the other room mate was sleeping 4 hours before fire happened and was not even smoking at that time. On the other hand, I dont smoke at all and I was out whole day and came home close to midnight when actually fire started at the back of our building. I am not sure why am I even being dragged in this one as I don't even smoke. Is it possible possible to have my name removed my name atleast from it and room mate can fight for himself as I am sure she also hasn't done anything.

Thanks
You really do need to consult with an attorney.

I believe your story actually. The problem you have is, proving it which, if you and your roommate had tenant's inurance would be fought for you by the insurance company.

It could very well be that after an investigation the cause of the fire was traced to a cigarette butt on your balcony. But that doesn't mean it came from either of you or even any guest. That has to be proved.

A lawyer needs to be consulted so they can see all who is enjoined by the plaintiff - they might be throwing a whole bunch of owners into the mix which would be stupid but many lawsuits are predicated on stupid premises.

You and your roomate are being sued jointly as you may be jointly and yet, severally liable. You'd have to launch a separate suit agains your roommate toclaim damages against them if in fact you were found liable.

This is not to beat up on you Op, but rather intended for those who who erroneously misbelieve that tenant insurance is something they should ignore.

Think twice about not getting it as it can mean the difference between you footing the cost to defend youself and your insurer doing so.
[OP]
Newbie
May 18, 2020
3 posts
Hi,

No I don’t have any asset nor any sort of good bank balance.

Do you think it will be in my favor if I can prove I don’t smoke and room mate itself say that too on my behalf too?
Sr. Member
Nov 22, 2017
615 posts
355 upvotes
If insurance is going after the tenants of your apartment you have to ask for disclosure of what evidence they have that it came from you. Unless evidence is clear cut, good luck to the insurance company proving they are right with 100% probability. I think the outcome will be positive for you. The only issue here is that you will probably end up paying a lot of lawyer fees which is still a big L.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 23, 2008
11502 posts
7790 upvotes
Edmonton
trishadam wrote: That’s little positivity. Yes, I’m sure it’s not my or my room mate fault fault. Based on their evidence, they found out cigarette butt on deck which doesn’t prove that it lit up fire.

If I remember correctly, there was always some cig but there since ages..

So hoping for the best.
There's still nothing saying that a cigarette butt came from your unit. Could have blown there from the neighbors above or beside.

As far as your question about "proving" you don't smoke... You're missing the point still, I think. Because you signed the lease, you're responsible for the unit and the damages caused. You could have been out of the country at the time, and you'd still be responsible.

The people suing you don't care about whether you personally caused it or not, they just want to get paid. And by including as many people as possible, they increase their odds of collecting something. So most likely, they won't let you off the hook just because of that.

But still... Talk to your lawyer, and go from there.

C

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