What is a tenant’s liability for a fire?

We lease our home and suffered a small fire last weekend that did some damage to the outside of the home. My husband was burned in the process of trying to contain the fire. The propert management company stated we would be responsible for the cost of the repairs since it was determined the fire started from an ember from our grill. The homeowner’s insurance company rep was just here gathering information for the homeowner’s claim. If they make a claim against their insurance, are we still responsible for the cost of the repairs?

Asked on September 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you were at fault in causing the file--for example, if you were  negligent, or unreasonably careless, in not making sure your grill was completely out, or in not noticing an ember falling on the deck or home while grilling, or in keeping flamable materials near the grill, etc.--then you could potentially be held liable for any out of pocket (e.g not reimbursed by insurance, like a deductible) costs of the landlord. You must be at fault to be liable--so to have acted either intentionally wrongfully or negligently (which again, is unreasonably careless)--but if so, you can be held accountable.

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