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Unit damaged by neighbor's fire - No rental insurance - What now?

Pittsburgh, PA |

Hi, I am renting an apartment unit in Pittsburgh, PA, and it was damaged by a fire at a neighboring unit. I did not purchase renter's insurance (not required per lease agreement) so I am wondering...

1 - am I liable for the damages to the unit? (I don't believe so, since the fire started at another unit?)
2 - is my landlord liable to the damages to my belongings? (I don't believe so either?)
3 - is my neighbor liable to the damages to the unit and my belongings? (I believe so?)
4 - is there a way to receive compensation for damages to my belongings given the fact that I do not have renter's insurance?

Many thanks in advance!

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Ok...to answer your questions:

    1. Not likely unless you contributed to any damages.
    2. Not unless your landlord in someway contributed to the fire (i.e. if there was faulty electrical wiring that caused the fire, your landlord knew about it, and your landlord did nothing to correct it).
    3. If your neighbor was negligent in causing the fire, then your neighbor is potentially liable.
    4. You might receive compensation if you can demonstrate that your neighbor was negligent in starting the fire and that, as a proximate result of your neighbor's negligence, you lost your belongings. If you can't prove that your neighbor was negligent, then your neighbor may not be responsible.

    FYI..even if renter's insurance is not required...it's always a good idea to have.

    DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.


  2. Great advice from Attorney Peeples.

    Good luck.

    DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.


  3. You may want to obtain the name of the neighbors insurance company and put in a claim with them. Your Landlord or the police/fire department may have it.