When Is a Landlord Liable for Damages Due to A Tennessee House Fire?

House fire aftermathA landlord may be liable for damages if he or she was negligent in maintaining the premises and that negligence led to the fire.

The experienced attorneys of Greg Coleman Law discuss a landlord’s potential liability for injuries caused in a house fire. If you were injured in a rental house fire and need legal help, request a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced Knoxville personal injury lawyers today.

Landlord Duty of Care for Maintaining Premises

Residential landlords owe tenants a duty of care to maintain rental properties and keep them in habitable condition. If a landlord breached his or her duty to maintain the premises, and that breach led to a house fire, he or she could potentially be liable for the damages.

Neglecting repairs is a common cause of house fires in rental properties. If the tenant made the landlord aware of certain dangerous conditions on the property, but the landlord failed to correct or repair them and a fire resulted, this may also provide the basis for a claim against the landlord.

If a house fire occurs, landlords are responsible for making the repairs and returning the property to habitable condition, unless it can be proven that the tenant is liable for the fire. If the tenant’s negligence caused the fire, then he or she may be responsible for some or all of the damages.

As a landlord repairs damage caused by a fire, the tenant has a duty to cooperate with the ongoing repair efforts. Leases are typically written to include provisions that state a tenant must permit the landlord - or agents of the landlord - entry to the property in order to make repairs. If the tenant is not compliant, this may be considered a breach of the lease.

Common Forms of Neglect by Landlords

There are many examples of neglect by landlords that could lead to house fires, including:

  • Building code violations
  • Lack of smoke detectors
  • Faulty smoke detectors
  • Lack of fire alarms
  • Non-existent or broken fire extinguishers
  • Faulty electrical wiring
  • Defective electrical outlets
  • Neglected electrical panels
  • Heating equipment
  • Pest infestations
  • Blocked fire escapes

How to Avoid Common Causes of Rental House Fires

It is important for tenants to do their part in preventing house fires by being mindful of potentially hazardous conditions, such as:

  • Cooking fires– Tenants should always take proper precautions when cooking, such as not leaving food unattended. However, even though a landlord is not directly responsible for a cooking fire, if the proper fire safety equipment is not easily accessible, such as working fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, the landlord may still be held liable for any damages that result.

  • Wiring or electrical components – Faulty wires are another leading cause of residential fires. It is a good idea for tenants to familiarize themselves with certain warning signs of damaged or faulty wiring, including:
    • Flickering lights
    • Unexplained dimming of lights
    • Soot around outlets and switches
    • Outlets, switches and fixtures that are hot to the touch
    • Breakers or fuses that frequently blow out or shut off
    • Shocks when you touch outlets or switches
    • A burning smell inside the home
  • Faulty repairs – Many landlords attempt to save money by making electrical repairs on their own. However, if your landlord is not a licensed electrician, he or she may be liable for your damages if those repairs cause a fire.

You should report any concerns about fire safety to your landlord as soon as you notice them.

Contact an Experienced Attorney for Assistance

If you were injured due to a house fire in a rental property, the landlord may be liable for the damages you suffered. Our experienced lawyers are prepared to review the details of your accident and discuss what is necessary to prove negligence for a premises liability claim.

Request your free, no-obligation consultation today and learn your legal rights. There are no upfront fees to pay and you only pay us if we recover compensation for you.

Schedule your Free consultation today:  (865) 247-0080