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Is the landlord/owner responsible for damages to personal property from roof collapse?

Arlington, TX |

I informed management of a crack in ceiling of garage but neither management nor maintenance responded. Next day, roof collapsed, damaging over 60% of property, including considerable damage to custom SUV, custom motorcycle and expensive treadmill, not to mention personal effects of deceased child. Am I entitled to damages or am I stuck with the bill and loss of these damages?

I should add that I do not have renters insurance (I've been here about 6 months) nor did I do anything to contribute to the collapse of the roof. While I took photos of the entire scene (roof before and after, collapse, debris, vehicles, etc), nothing has been removed from the garage as of this email.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    You may be entitled to recover damages from the individuals or groups responsible for the property either through their ownership or management. Even if you have a written lease and it attempts to place all responsibility upon the tenant, a roof collapse is an extraordinary event and unless you, by some action, caused the roof to fail, you should have a reasonable prospect for recovery. Obviously, you should have an attorney review the facts and give you an opinion on what would be involved with making demand upon the responsible party and pursuing a claim. You should be documenting all damages (getting estimates for repair of the vehicles), and if you have renters insurance you need to notify them immediately as well.

    The above comments are made by an attorney at The Rieck Law Firm (RLF). RLF offers free initial consultation to potential clients and more information about this firm can be found at www.riecklawfirm.com. Materials contained within this website and submitted by this user (including the above comments) provide information on general legal issues and are not intended to provide advice on any specific legal matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Internet and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.


  2. It will depend first on what the lease says if there is a lease. Otherwise, you may have a claim, depending on further facts. If you had renter's insurance, you should contact them about making a claim. You may ultimately have to hire a lawyer.

    This is not legal advice. You should always discuss the specifics of your issue in person with an attorney. Be aware that there are time limits on all claims that depend on the kind of claim, so do not delay in seeking an attorney.


  3. The lease almost surely will not give you a remedy against the landlord or the management company. Landlords and management companies, not tenants, draft leases, so most of the duties are on the tenant and most of the rights are those of the landlord and/or management company. On the other hand, they have a common-law duty not to damage your property through their acts and omissions of negligence. The merits of your claim would, therefore, boil down to what they knew or should have known about the danger and whether or not they had a reasonable opportunity to eliminate it prior to the accident.

    I suggest that you promptly consult an Arlington or Fort Worth lawyer about this.

    Good luck.