If my apartment burned down, is the landlord responsible for anything other than my deposit?

The landlord said he would return my deposit within 30 days. But isn’t he liable for more he broke the lease? Perhaps a months rent or moving cost? I do not have renter’s insurance.

Asked on July 7, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The landlord is not responsible for your costs unless (s)he was actually at fault in someway--e.g. by having a building which did not meet fire codes, which is why it burned so badly, or if the landlord or a staff member actually started the fire. However, if the landlord is not responsible for the fire, then (s)he is not responsible for a tenant's costs. When property burns down and becomes uninhabitable through no fault of the landlord, the lease is voided due to impossibility--the impossibility of providing possession of an inhabitable space. Neither party is responsible to the other for an inability to perform a contract or less caused by impossibility due to events beyond that party's control.

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