Tenants can be held liable for fire-related damage

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The fire at Castle Point Apartments on Wednesday was likely sparked when the fumes from an open bottle of nail polish remover ignited because it was too close to a candle. Because the tenant could be held liable for the damages, you should make sure you have renter's insurance.

You might want to think twice the next time you light a candle in your home, especially if you live in an apartment.


"When people are lighting them just for effect, you need to be just as careful and make sure that it's not located near anything that can burn whether it's flammable or combustible and of course that you blow them out when you leave rooms," said Dave Cherrone of the Clay Fire Department.

The fire at Castle Point was likely caused by the nail polish remover that was too close to a lit candle.

"Any homeowner policy, business policy, renters policy, fire is included as part of the average policy," said State Farm Insurance Agent Calvin Johnson.


Accident or not, the apartment complex could hold the person responsible liable - and could be sued.

"Protection, protection, protection. You just want to make sure you're protected at all times. We live in a sue happy society. You don't ever know what you might be sued for," said Johnson.


As a renter, Johnson says you're typically responsible for one thing.


"The building owner is responsible for the building, if you want your personal effects to be covered, then you have to carry renters insurance," said Johnson.


If your landlord sues and you're found guilty of negligence, you could also be liable for damages to the building which could add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

One way you can avoid that Johnson says is by paying around $10 a month in renters insurance.


"In addition your policy carries general liability. That means if you did something of negligence, someone is injured on your property, that's where your damages and legal fees are paid from," said Johnson.

We contacted Castle Point's management to find out if they would hold the tenant liable, but we have not yet heard back.


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