What are a tenant’s rights if there was an electrical fire in their rental house and theyhad to evacuate?

We were renting and an electrical fire broke out. Fire department said it was bad wiring. Our landlord disagreed and wouldn’t have a inspector come out so we agreed to move. Now he wants us to pay fees for all kinds of stuff not in contract. I’ve read he technically owes us the rent from the day of the fire onward back (which would negate what he’s asking). What is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure the house is safe and in-code and what it means to renter if we learn it is not? Are we supposed to get that money back, legally? Note, there is no written contract.

Asked on September 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Georgia


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you have no written contract for the rental you had, the law in your state implies that the rental was on a month-to-month basis. If you paid for the entire month rent for the unit, you are entitled to a rebate of the rent from the time of the fire onward when you could not occupy the unit due to safety issues.

When a landlord rent a residence to a tenant, he or she is required under state law to make sure that the rental is in a safe condition. If the fire results from unsafe conditions or code violations, then the landlord is not in a good position to be making demands of you for additional monies. If you have already moved out of the unit, your landlord is required to return to you your security deposit within a certain period of time (21 to 45 days depending upon the state where the property is in) and if the full amount is not returned, you must be provided with receipts showing what expenses you are being charged for.

Good luck.


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