Why am I still liable for paying rent?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Why am I still liable for paying rent?

An electrical fire started in my apartment complex in the unit above mine. Due to the firefighters putting out the fire, there was significant water damage done to my unit, as well as smoke damage. When I called local management, they claim they are not

liable. I asked ‘so I’m homeless?’, all I got was an ‘I’m sorry’. When I made a call to corporate, the lady I spoke to was extremely rude and again claims they are not liable. I’m being asked to still pay rent even though I moved out, not because of any other reason but the damages done by the fire.

Asked on October 28, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Arkansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Unless the lease you signed specifically says that you are still liable for rent even when the unit is uninhabitable (if the lease does say this, it is legal--you would have contractually agreed to be liable), you do not have to pay when the unit is uninhabitable (unless, that is, you caused the damage, but that is not the case here). The lease is a contract: you agree to pay rent in exchange for a place to live. If the landlord does not provide you a habitable place to live, you do not need to pay. The landlord does not owe you anything for you being homeless now unless you can prove this was the landlord's fault (if it was, you could sue for your losses or costs), but you also would not owe them.

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