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Can I sue tenant for burning my rental property down? It's sitting empty; difficult to find a new tenant.

Sacramento, CA |
Filed under: Landlord-tenant law

Last year, my rental property (single family home) burned down. The past year has been spent dealing with insurance, contractors, etc.... and now trying to rent out the place in winter... a difficult time to try to rent out property). I live hours away so driving to the property is an inconvenience.

I was told throughout the entire process that the fire was likely caused by a faulty refrigerator of the tenants' in the garage.

I have only just found out through a subrogation attorney that the fire was not caused by the refrigerator; it was likely a cigarette! Since I'd been told it was a faulty refrigerator, I returned tenant's deposit long ago. Now that we know it wasn't the fridge, I'm really upset! Here I was truly caring about the tenants and they caused the fire!!!!
Can I sue?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. I recommend getting a local attorney to review your evidence and provide an evaluation on the likelihood of winning before filling suit. You can always sue.

    -Michael R. Juarez Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216 San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.jslaw.org Mike@jslaw.org This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different jurisdictions.


  2. Your property was insured, so that damage has been taken care of. The rest is very unlikely to be recoverable as it is simply the fact that you live where you do-YOUR choice-- and timing, or maybe you are not marketing the property well.

    Yes you CAN sue-- but it will not prove much balm, in reality. Better tenants are your best remedy.

    Good luck.

    Ms. Straus (aka Carroll) may be reached at 800-400-8978 during regular business hours, Pacific Time, or anytime by email at: ECSEsquire@AOL.com. All of Ms. Straus’ responses to questions posted on Avvo are intended as helpful information based upon the facts stated in the question, and are not to be relied upon as a final legal opinion. It may not be what you wished to hear, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Ms. Straus is licensed to practice law in California. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about this issue, you must contact an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state, and retain him or her. Me Straus provides “unbundled” services if you need specific assistance with a specific issue.

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