If we had a fire at the kitchen in our rented apartment, who is responsible to pay for the renovations?

The fire was due to kitchen grease, and there was no strorage of any imflamable materials there. The kitchen appliances got effected. The fire was controlled by us but due to the smoke the sprinkles started. This resulted in water damage. The homeowners want us pay for renovations. We did not have the rentars insurance. We do not admit fault. The kitchen is normally clean, with as less grease as possible. We dont find ourselves as fault and think this to be an accident. What should be our reply to the homeowners?

Asked on November 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Most likely, you have to pay for the renovations. Tenants are typically responsible for all damage done to rental premises which occurs due to actions of themselves, or their family and guests. Even if you believe you were not at fault, the fact is that the grease was there due to your use of the kitchen, and the fire presumably started while you were cooking (since there would have to be an ignition source); those factors would make tenants liable for the cost of repairs. Certainly, you can refuse to pay and force the landlord to take legal action against you; however, be advised that if you go that route, there is a very good chance you will lose--and have to pay for your legal defense as well as the damages. Alternately, the landlord could repair, take the cost thereof from you security deposit, then sue you  for the balance if it's worthwhile for him to do so.

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