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Is a landlord liable for tenant possessions and relocation in a house fire where he failed to have operating smoke alarms?

Santa Cruz, CA |

This occurred in Santa Cruz California. The building was rented room by room to unconnected parties. the house has been deemed unfit for habitation for the next six months. Nobody in the house had renters insurance. Nobody in the house was harmed.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. That will be a question that needs to be answered by the insurance company. If the house fire was the result of some manner of negligence on the part of the owner (he did his own electrical wiring and the wiring shorted out and caused the fire) there is a chance you may be reimbursed. Other than something that glaring, no. As to relocated, no, there is no obligation on the part of the landlord to provide alternative housing in the event his dwelling is destroyed. ( there may even be a lease provision that deals with that)

    A proper response would require a much more thorough and complete investigation into the history and facts set forth in your question. Any statements provided by me regarding your inquiry is nothing more than an opinion, and does not represent legal advice or create a client relationship.


  2. If the renting of the house to several unrelated people was illegal, you may have a claim against the landlord for all of the rent that you paid. Also, if the landlord concealed the illegal nature of the rental, you may have a claim against the landlord for the property you lost. Lastly, if the fire was caused by one of your housemates, you may have a claim against him (who may be broke) AND the landlord for negligently renting to a known drunk, etc.
    You should talk with a lawyer who represents tenants, NOT both landlords and tenants. You want to make certain you are not talking to someone who depends on business from landlords for his livelihood.

    This is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided is a general statement of the law. Reviewing a case and giving legal advice to a client requires more information than can be exchanged in this format. If you need legal advice, contact an experienced tenants' attorney.