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Im I Legally responsibable for my tenants damaging the neighbors home

Discussion in 'Commercial Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by esullenger, Dec 22, 2016.

  1. esullenger

    esullenger Law Topic Starter Guest

    Jurisdiction:
    Indiana
    I'm a landlord in IN. The former tenants in one of my properties damaged the siding of the neighbors house. That home is also renter property. The tenants in my property caused damage by using a gas powered generator in the side yard. The generator caught fire and melted the siding on the home next door. They were running a generator because they had their utilities cut off for non payment. This is in direct violation of their lease with us. They must have utilities on at all times and in good standing. We had no knowledge that this was happening until after the fire accrued. We ask the tenants to leave the premises as soon as we were aware of the situation. Now the owner of the house is pushing us to file a claim with our insurance. We have contacted our insurance agent and have been assured we are not liberal for this damage. The owner wont listen and has called multiple times and now mailed us estimates for the repair. He states "we can do this the easy way or hard way". I have recently sent him a letter back in response to the estimates. I once again told him Im not response and provided him the name and phone number of the said tenants. I also provided him with my insurance agents information. Are we in any way responsible for this damage?
     
  2. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    You could be as owner of the home. In turn, you can go after your tenants for the damages you incurred.
     
  3. esullenger

    esullenger New Member

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    Thank you for your response. Why would it be my responsibility to pay? Shouldn't he just sue the tenants? I could understand if we knowingly let this behavior happen, but that wasn't the case.
     
  4. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    He could sue the tenants directly, and if you wanted to pass along their info you could. However, as the owner, you are ultimately responsible for what happens on the property.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Absolutely not true when it comes to the negligence of tenants.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    You are not responsible for the negligence of your tenants.

    Your "agent" has NOTHING to do with any of this. Your liability policy requires you to report this "claim" to the insurance company. You do that by calling the "Claims Department" not your agent. There is probably a toll free number listed in your policy papers.

    Your insurance company will assign a claim rep to handle the claimants, likely deny the claim for lack of negligence, and be obligated to defend you if it ever goes to court.

    Don't be reluctant to get your insurance company involved. That's what you pay insurance premiums for, to get the insurance company involved when somebody demands money from you and let the experts handle it so you don't do anything foolish.
     
    Michael Wechsler and army judge like this.
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Great information, excellent suggestions, I concur 1,000,000%.

    I buy insurance for two reasons: to protect my interests, and to defend me when those interests are challenged.

    I'll never understand the reluctance of people to contact their insurers, even if its only to seek a clarification or to achieve an understanding.
     
  8. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    A lawyer will usually try to pursue as many parties as possible in order to obtain recovery. If the tenants were unable to afford to pay utilities then they are essentially judgment proof. Knowing that you've evicted the tenants, the only practical chance your neighbor has to see recovery is to pursue you directly and look to sue you. Even if it seems likely that you may prevail, there is nothing stopping an injured party from filing a lawsuit in good faith.

    I couldn't agree more with @adjusterjack in telling you to contact your insurance company so that their legal counsel can review liability issues. We don't know all the specific details that might allow your neighbor some cause of action to pursue a case directly against you, even if speculative. And since your insurance company's interests are aligned with your own in not wanting to pay, this would seem to be the best course of action for you to take. You may be worried about premiums going up but the situation will only get worse if the damages are high enough and the neighbor decides to pursue you and you'll need to notify your insurance company anyway. No need to be pennywise pound foolish. This is one of the reasons you pay for an insurance policy.
     

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