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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Who's Responsible For What After an Apartment Fire

2/12/2020 (Permalink)

Window and wall of residential home damaged with fire, covered in soot and smoke. Fire damage in West Valley City, UT.

An apartment fire can raise a lot of questions: Did we lose any family heirlooms? Why didn't we ever replace that ancient, sparking coffeemaker in the kitchen? Are we on the hook for fire damage repairs, or is that the landlord's job? Here's a brief guide to who's responsible for what after a fire at a rental property in West Valley City, UT.

Guide of Responsabilities After an Apartment Fire

What the Property Owner Is Responsible For

In the simplest terms, a landlord is generally culpable for the apartment itself — more specifically its structure and fixtures. This typically includes components such as the following:

  • Plumbing
  • Kitchen and bathroom counters
  • Built-in cabinetry
  • Appliances
  • Windows and doors


If fire damage to any of these structural elements requires repairs, it's usually up to the landlord to fix them or, depending on the severity of the loss, enlist the help of an experienced fire restoration company. A landlord has a responsibility to bring the residence back up to habitable conditions ASAP.
The main exception to this provision is a fire caused by the renter. If a tenant's carelessness results in an apartment fire, and the landlord can prove that negligence, then the renter may be liable for the cost of structural and fixture-related repairs instead. For this reason, it's imperative that all parties involved take photos and videos of any fire damage after the event.

What the Renter Is Responsible For


The renter is culpable for whatever he or she brought into the apartment. These personal items can be large or small: everything from furniture and electronics to clothing and media. In short, if it wasn't there already when the renter moved in, then he or she is likely liable for any repairs or replacement that may be required.
If, however, the renter can prove that the landlord was responsible for the fire through negligence or failure to comply with building codes, then the landlord may be held liable for damage to the tenant's personal items.

The aftermath of an apartment fire can be chaotic. Knowing what you're responsible for — and what you don't have to worry about — is one way to begin regaining control of the situation and your sanity.

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