What is a landlord’s liability for not installing fire alarms?

UPDATED: Nov 6, 2010

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What is a landlord’s liability for not installing fire alarms?

My daughter lived in her apartment for 5 weeks with no fire alarms in place; they were in the trunk of the landlord’s car. A fire started while all were asleep but they all got out. However they lost everything except for the clothes on their backs. Can landlord be held responsible for anything that they lost? They did not have any renter’s insurance edue to a high premium because there were no smoke alarms.

Asked on November 6, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Your daughter needs to seek help from an attorney in the area as to the matter.  Although I am not familiar with Wisconsin law specifically, I am pretty sure that every state has laws that deal with mandatory fire alarms for tenant occupied premises.  You should check with the Fire Department or the Fire Commissioner to see if the landlord was issued a citation for not having the smoke detectors on the premises.  The landlord has insurance for the building and you should be covered unless they try and disclaim because of his failure to install the detectors but I do not want to scare you about that.  Her attorney will know what to do.  Good luck. 

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