Tenants are sued every day for breaches of their lease and monies owed. That’s pretty standard if you leave the contract unfulfilled in any way. Though it rarely makes the news, you’ll find tenants sued for damages due to their negligence all the time. Remember that Texas renters insurance protects you if you’re sued for damage caused by your negligence! After the jump, a painful example of why that coverage is so crucial.
$15 A Month Or A $25K Judgment? A Tenant Sued Knows the Answer
A couple who did not have San Antonio renters insurance finds themselves in a rather awkward position, facing a lawsuit for upwards of $25,000 in damages. Why was the tenant sued? When they tried to move out after a fire, they were in breach of their lease in doing so, of course. Often, property management will let people out of their lease after a major fire, even if the apartment is undamaged, as we’ve heard is being done in the Avalon at Edgewater fire. But that fire was not the fault of any resident. What gets a tenant sued is negligent actions that result in damage.
But What Led To Finding A Tenant Sued?
So why was the tenant sued? What was their negligence in this San Antonio apartment fire? They walked away from the stove. This wasn’t a one in a million outlier. This was the sort of simple negligence that nearly everyone engages in on a daily basis whether you’re aware of it or not. Really, that’s the definition of negligence: You knew or should have known better, but unintentionally failed to act with reasonable care.
The tenants being sued for this San Antonio apartment fire probably thought the food would be fine for thirty seconds while they tended to their toddler who was trying to get their attention. It only takes seconds for a kitchen fire to spread, and this one spread rapidly in the few seconds they were listening to their toddler tell them about whatever happened that day.
The facts of the case as we know them:
- Tenants leased an apartment on a one year lease from property management company. Deposit and rent were paid, and the lease duly executed.
- Tenants lived for several months in the apartment, with rents paid and the apartment in reasonable repair.
- Tenants were cooking food which was briefly unmonitored because their child drew away their attention.
- The food on the stove caught fire, and rapidly spread beyond the pan, damaging walls, paint, cupboards, countertops, and other parts of the apartment kitchen.
- After repairs were made from the fire, tenant refused to return to the apartment because they had already leased an apartment elsewhere.
- Damages being sought are $17,000 for fire damage, $2,000 for lost rents while apartment was repaired and re-leased, costs associated with the suit, and attorney fees. Total damages are above $25,000.
Cooking dinner and turning away for mere seconds got this tenant sued. How would San Antonio renters insurance have helped?
- Loss of use coverage would have paid for a hotel while the fire damage was being repaired. That would have obviated the need to rent another apartment to replace the damaged one, allowing tenants to return to the repaired apartment in a few days or weeks. No lost rents, no costs to find another tenant.
- Liability coverage would have paid the cost of repairing the damage outright. There’s no need to have a tenant sued when they have liability coverage to take care of damage from their negligence.
- Personal property coverage would, of course, have taken care of any property lost in the fire, which can be a significant help after a major fire loss.
- San Antonio renters insurance liability coverage places upon the insurance company a duty to defend their insured, namely the tenant in question. The tenant could have “High Powered Law Firm, PC” defend them instead of their Uncle Joe’s guy who hasn’t seen the inside of a courtroom since Reagan was in office. You don’t want the guy who does wills and trusts for a living defending you against a lawsuit like this. You want the best, and the best comes with a cost. That’s why the insurance company pays to defend you. Liability claims can be large, and it benefits everyone for the insurance company to negotiate a settlement with attorneys who do this work day in and day out. The costs of your defense are generally “outside the policy limits,” meaning that those costs are borne by the insurance company without counting towards your coverage limits.
Texas renters insurance would have saved everyone involved quite a bit of time and trouble when the tenants were sued, and certainly could have prevented it from ever getting to that point. If judgment is made in favor of the property management company, you can bet that judgment will follow those tenants for a very long time to come.
A lifetime of payments towards a judgment like that can be avoided easily for about fifteen dollars a month. At fifteen dollars a month, they could have had renters insurance for 1,667 months, or one hundred thirty eight years before they paid the $25,000 that’s being sought.
What would a claim like that do to your family and your finances? Don’t you think it’s time to protect your family with renters insurance from Effective Coverage?