House uninhabitable by fire (tenant negligence) what do I do next?

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    House uninhabitable by fire (tenant negligence) what do I do next?

    Hi everyone

    I wonder if someone could offer me some guidance...I rent out a 2 bedroom property to 2 girls, at the weekend one of them left a candle on the floor which caused a fire and wrecked the top floor of the house (the two bedrooms).

    The house is uninhabitable currently and today I have had the loss adjuster over from the insurance company and am getting quotes for the repair work.

    My understanding is that they have to find alternative accommodation and pay for it whilst the repairs are carried out - and to find out what their intention is to return after it's all been fixed up.

    Is this correct?
    Are there any specific responsibilities or requirements I have to do other than to inform them of this and to keep them updated?
    Should I put anything in writing?
    So far I have had to pay out £111 for the fire report and I'm awaiting the invoice for the emergency call-out to board up the window which I'm expecting to be several £100 at least
    Can I request reimbursement from the tenant (who admits it's her fault for leaving a candle on the floor)
    Is there anything else you can think of that I need to take into account or that I might be entitled to?

    Any advice you might have would be gratefully received! Thanks in advance,

    Carl

    #2
    Oh dear.......unfortunately you have to supply and pay for the accommodation for your tenants then hopefully claim the cost from your insurers - you need to get help from them with this and most companies use ICAB (google it) to help.

    Look at your tenancy agreement to see what it says about the property becoming uninhabitable - I bet it says that no rent is due?

    Did you have a clause in your agreement banning use of candles? If not make sure you do next time.

    Long term you could sue the tenant for your losses but if she is in a low paid job that might not be worthwhile



    Freedom at the point of zero............

    Comment


      #3
      What proof (ideally in writing) - from fire service or police - do you have that this was caused by tenants??

      This
      http://www.landlordsguild.com/house-...fire-or-flood/
      - may be helpful...
      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Interlaken View Post
        Look at your tenancy agreement to see what it says about the property becoming uninhabitable - I bet it says that no rent is due?
        Knowing I had something like this in my own AST, I checked and found - "The Landlord will return to the Tenant(s) any Rent Payable for any period during which the Property may have been rendered uninhabitable by fire or other risk that the Landlord has insured." - I'm OK with the principle of this, but I'm wondering whether the wording is useful... it implies a return of rent, possibly that I am paid it and give it back (but also that they might get a return of pro-rated rent if they paid me on the 1st and burned the place down on the 2nd). Would it be simpler to state "No Rent is payable for any period which the Property is rendered uninhabitable by fire or other risk that the Landlord has insured."? It reads simpler to me and I do like simplicity.

        Comment


          #5
          Hi Interlaken,

          Thanks for your response - I will look up the ICAB. I can't see anything in the tenancy agreement about what happens if the property becomes uninhabitable though..

          There is this clause:

          Not to use or keep in the Premises any type of stove, heater, or lamp burning paraffin (or any type of fuel oil), nor to use, or permit to be used, any electrical apparatus or other equipment of a type or in a condition which might endanger the Premises.

          Hopefully this cover it?

          She has a decent job, she's a recruitment consultant.

          They are still within their first 6 months - I guess I have to allow them to come back if they want to?

          Comment


            #6
            Well she admitted it to me - and her Dad, the other tenant and my boyfriend were all in the house at the time when we were talking about it. I requested fire report yesterday which I hope to get this week. The loss adjuster came today and a further, forensic chap is coming later in the week so I guess this will confirm everything.

            Thanks for the link to the guide above - I will check this out now too

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Interlaken View Post
              Oh dear.......unfortunately you have to supply and pay for the accommodation for your tenants then hopefully claim the cost from your insurers -
              Highly doubtful. Do you have a source?
              Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

              Comment


                #8
                Hi everyone, thanks for the replies

                I don't have to re-home them or pay for rent, they have to sort themselves out and they are entitled to come back when the house is fixed up again. We are still within the first 6 months of the AST. One of the girls isn't sure she still wants to share the house with her negligent friend and might like to get someone new in. Presumably if we're all in agreement this can be done?

                Luckily the rent is covered by the insurance whilst this is all going on. I only had building insurance, not contents.

                Would anyone know if I'm entitled to get the negligent one to pay for new mattresses and lamps shades that got wrecked in the fire - or what my rights might be? (providing the reports show the fire was her fault?

                Thanks again

                Comment


                  #9
                  I'm less sure you're not required to re-home them.
                  Currently you're in breach of contract to your joint and several tenants and the liability for the fire isn't joint and several.

                  Tenant A and B rent from you (while legally there's only one tenant, there are two bodies that need a home).
                  Tenant A caused the fire and if they insisted on being re-homed are only going to be responsible for the cost of that as it's a direct and foreseeable consequence of the fire.
                  But tenant B didn't cause the fire and the landlord is contractually bound to house tenant B.
                  Which tenant A should compensate you for.

                  The negligent one is responsible for the loss you incurred (lamps and mattresses) and should compensate you for it.
                  When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                  Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Carl73 View Post
                    Not to use or keep in the Premises any type of stove, heater, or lamp burning paraffin (or any type of fuel oil), nor to use, or permit to be used, any electrical apparatus or other equipment of a type or in a condition which might endanger the Premises.
                    I don't see how this covers candles. OFT suggested that a clause blanket banning inflammable materials is likely to be an unfair term (i.e. not legally binding on the tenant), and I suspect your clause has been drafted specifically to be cover things that are arguably non-domestic and not to restrict use of domestic items like matches, candles etc. Your problem isn't actually the candle, it's that you let your property to a careless person, who could have just as easily left the taps running and flooded the place, left the hob on and burnt the place down, or left the gas on and blown the place up.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Hmm, interesting point - I am going off what the Loss Adjuster told me after he read the tenancy agreement and that I had no obligation to re-home them. Neither of them are requesting to be re-homed, I think they are both highly ashamed (obviously one more than the other) and are being very helpful, not that there's much they can do except clear their things from their rooms so the renovation work can commence.

                      In order to be compensated for the mattresses and lampshades (ceiling) - do I have to go down a legal / solicitor route for this or can it just be put to the negligent one that she has to buy new ones - clearly in her interest so she and her friend have something to sleep on when the house is fixed up again?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I think you might be well advised to drop any claim against your negligent tenant, lest she searches for help online, and someone tells her she has the right to move back in again when repairs are finished.

                        Best to have nothing more to do with her in my book.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Carl73 View Post
                          In order to be compensated for the mattresses and lampshades (ceiling) - do I have to go down a legal / solicitor route for this or can it just be put to the negligent one that she has to buy new ones - clearly in her interest so she and her friend have something to sleep on when the house is fixed up again?
                          Don't take the advice of loss adjusters on your legal responsibilities as a landlord.

                          You can simply ask the tenant for compensation.
                          You can't start legal action until there's a debt anyway, so you'd have to ask and be declined or ignored before going legal in any case.

                          Someone who's caused a fire once is unlikely to do something like that again.
                          When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                          Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Hi - thanks JKO and jpkeates


                            Am I allowed to ask the negligent one to buy them at the time when the house will be ready to move back into? They will need something to sleep on.....
                            She has offered to help as much as possible and this way it doesn't hit my pocket.

                            I don't wish to sue anyone really, I just wanted to get this over as quickly as possible. This has collectively taken 3 days of time already, but that's what happens and accidents happen I know, I just want her to pay for what she destroyed which isn't covered under my insurance that's all.

                            They are both entitled to come back and I have no issue with this either, I'm sure they will be model tenants following this. I hope anyway.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              You are allowed to ask anything you want (within reason).
                              Asking her to replace things means that she will select things that suit her and may not be sensible for a rental property, so make sure you approve anything that is proposed.
                              When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                              Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                              Comment

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