Anonymous asked in Business & FinanceRenting & Real Estate · 3 months ago

Rent payment, plus fees after fire. Should I fight this?

Our neighbors apartment caught fire a couple of weeks ago. Our entire building was evacuated for almost a week and a half. We had to abandon all of our belongings including clothing, food (that spoiled), etc. We were notified later that we had only two days to completely move out of our apartment because the fire department declared it was "unlivable." To add we were already behind in rent due to unemployment from the pandemic, my husband had just started working two jobs. We had already made plans to pay off the balance and had an agreement with the apartment manager. 

  When we got back to our apartment, almost everything was damaged including the carpet. The entire building reeked of spoiled food and animal feces, and all of the lights and water was out. So it took us two days to move out. Day one was extremely hot and day two was extremely cold (we live in Texas). Could you imagine moving in those conditions without A/C or heat or lights or water to wash left over dirty dishes? Because of the unbearable conditions, not having help and not given enough time, we were forced to leave some of our things including furniture and we didn't have enough time to clean. 

They charged us $5000, including $800 for cleaning and repairs. They used our security deposit ($250) for taking the trash out and $450 to replace the carpet. They noted “black spots prior to fire.” Which is hard to believe when the carpet was completely black after the fire. 

7 Answers

  • Robert
    Lv 7
    3 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    If you pay them a dime you're making a big mistake. Further, I'd have a lawyer write them a letter demanding your deposited back since by their own admission the apartment is unlivable.   Their inability to provide safe conditions for you to remove all items from your former apartment are the reasons things were left behind and therefore their fault.  The carpet and fire damage are there problems, not yours.  I'd also contact my state and local representatives demanding that they intervene as well.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    3 months ago

    how in the world did it smell like animal feces?  it was animal cruelty to leave animals in the building.  they should have been removed.

    your things would be covered by YOUR renters insurance if you acted adult  and got insurance for about $15/month.

    clean?  if its not habitable, cleaning isn't necessary.

    under normal conditions, people can move out of an apartment in half a day.  your excuse that 2 days wasn't long enough is not credible.

    ever hear of SELF STORAGE?  you needed to pack and store your things...

    your renters insurance would pay for a hotel and may be storage expenses until you find a new place.

    you owe for anything you left behind.  did you even try to work with them to get an extension?

  • 3 months ago

    They can't charge your deposit, or collect for repairs.  Fight them in court,they will lose.

  • 3 months ago

    If the fire was caused by your negligence, they could try to charge you for their costs although I would recommend you not do so at this time. I'd wait until you are served court papers notifying you that you are being sued. I would not expect this to happen. Legally, you do owe them all back rent. 

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  • Anonymous
    3 months ago

    2 days is not enough time to pack up, move out, and find a new place to live. I should not have to pay for thing that was damaged in the fire or any cleaning or trash that was left. They denied us access to our apartment for over a week. We lost all of our food and half of our things were damaged from water and smoke. All of those things will have to be replaced. I know we need to pay back the rent. But we had a contract and a due date beforehand. That shouldn't change after we were forced to move. 

  • 3 months ago

    You owe the past due rent. You cannot get out of that debt that you legally owe. 

    They cannot charge you rent for the time you were unable to live there by order of the fire department. The only way it is legal to still charge you is if they paid for alternate accomodation which it does not sound like they did.  If they are trying to charge you rent for that time period then you need to fight it in court. I would fight the cleaning & repair costs as well. It would be really hard to determine what was caused by the fire vs what was prefire.  They can charge you for any repairs that were obviously not caused by fire like if you broke off a cabinet door or something but it would have to be very obvioulsy not caused by the fire to fly in court. 

  • 3 months ago

    You owe:

    - back rent (up to date of fire)

    - if your unit, only had smoke damage than you owe for any repairs for connected to smoke damage/fire.  Things like broken tiles, broken cabinets, etc

    You don't owe for cleaning.

    - if your place was not physically damaged and you were given two days to move out, you would be responsible for paying for trash removal for anything you abandoned.

    It must have been a really scary time.  Thank goodness you and your family are safe.

    In response to your post:

    - if you had renters insurance, you would not have to pay for things damaged in the fire, the renters insurance would pay.  It was your choice to forego this insurance. 

    - it's normal for the fire department to do a lock out for a period of time.  I understand it's very inconvenient and scary.  Life happens and we deal with it.

    - TWO DAYS IS TIME TO MOVE OUT OF AN APARTMENT.  Gheez.  It won't be the most organized move in the world but it can easily happen.  I'd feel really fortunate that you had belongings that you were able to move out.  It sounds like it could have gone the other way.  We all have to deal with things some times.  The concept that you are belly-aching about dirty dishes?  WTF - if you wanted to keep them get a trash bag and put them in.  I can't imagine wanting to save a few dishes unless they were sentimental. 

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