If I had a kitchen fire in a condo rental, am I responsible if the condo owner didn’t have insurance either?

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If I had a kitchen fire in a condo rental, am I responsible if the condo owner didn’t have insurance either?

There was structural damage and new paint/carpet is needed. Also, the sprinkler system needs repair. I didn’t have renters insurance, as I was told it only covered my possessions. The owner of the condo (with a mortage) didn’t have insurance either and wants me to pay for the damages out-of-pocket. Is it my responsibility ?

Asked on March 30, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

What caused the fire? The short answer  is, if you caused the fire, such as through negligence (or carelessness)--for example, you left something unattended on the stove and it caught on fire--then you would be responsible. If you did not cause the fire through either negligence (carelessness) or a deliberate wrongful act, then you should not be responsible. Financial responsibility, or liability, is generally predicated on fault; without fault, there is usually no liability. That is why property owners should have insurance--to provide a source of payment when there is no one else at fault to sue.


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