Is guarantor responsible?

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    Is guarantor responsible?

    I have a tenant who caused a fire at my property and did not let me know about it. The damage was caused by tenant lighting a cigarette from the gas stove while a plastic container was placed on the stove. The container ignited and the resulting fire damaged the cooker hood and s/s splash back, worktops, two wall cupboards, and smoke damage to all downstairs decoration plus hall, stairs and landing.

    The tenant tried to cover the damage by redecorating but the work is unacceptable and it all needs redone. There was no cutting in between ceiling and walls for example and poorly covered with no stain block used. Laminate flooring was damaged with large splodges of paint.

    I was told about the fire 2 months after the event so insurers aren't interested.

    The AST says that the landlord is responsible for repair after "accidental" fire. I call this negligence not accident. Can anyone throw any light on what that clause means in a standard AST? "To keep the interior of the Property, the internal wall paper, decorations, plaster work and the fixtures, fittings and appliances in the Property in good repair and condition (except for damage by accidental fire and except for anything which the Landlord is liable to repair under this Agreement or by law)"

    I have a guarantor for this tenancy and the agreement states "The Guarantor shall pay and make good to the Landlord on demand all reasonable losses and expenses of the Landlord incurred as a result of default by the Tenant in the performance or observance of the Tenant's covenants under the Tenancy Agreement". So my next question is, is the guarantor responsible for the cost of damage?

    I hope that I have made things clear and I would appreciate any feedback.

    Kind regards.

    IMO LL has a repair resp to building fabric & LLs f+fs during T. At end of T tenant is required to return property in similar state to move in, If damage was caused by T or T repair is substandard (noted on checkout)then T /G is liable for rectification. Not much you can do til end of T (after giving inspector a 'heads up') other than alert G to damage, substandard T repair and Gs resps. If fire damage had been repaired by LL Ins then I believe LL would have claim on T for any Ins excess and increased premium.
    Before T undertakes any repair to LL property he shoul request prior written approval to attempt adequate repair.
    Accident implies T had no control over fire starting eg faulty wiring. Leaving a chip pan on the heat or setting light to plastic container is not an 'accident'.IMO
    Other opinions may differ.


      I would be inclined to have another go at the insurers, because they were notified as soon as you were made aware of
      the damage. If the insurers won't play ball you could always threaten to contact the Insurance Ombudsman for support (and they usually will offer support).

      I would also concur that it is damage caused by the tenant not an "accident" as they did something stupid, but it might be difficult to recover more than the amount of the deposit that you hold after the tenant vacates, but it wouldn't stop my trying to obtain the full amount.
      The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.


        I agree that it was a daft thing to do on the T's part, but it was nonetheless an accident (as opposed to being a wilful or intentional act). Insurers would also class it as accidental, in the same way that they class letting a bath overfill and bringing down the ceiling of the floor below, as accidental.

        Definitely claim the whole deposit and take your T to court if you think the cost warrants it- definitely keep pursuing your LL's insurers. In the meantime, take lots of photos of the property as T left it, and all receipts/invoices for professional cleaning & redecoration.

        If T cannot or will not pay, chase the G. Incidentally, it confuses the issue to refer to the T or the G as being 'responsible' for the accident (they aren't); but they are both 'liable' for the cost of remedying the damage.
        'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


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