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Landlord Smoke Detector

Negligent Landlord related to fire issues -Failure by the Landlord to have functioning smoke detectors

25% of all deaths from residential fires in Massachusetts occurred in homes without smoke detectors. Another 12% occurred in homes whose alarms were not in working condition. In the state of Massachusetts, a landlord is required to install functioning smoke detectors within individual units as well as in building common areas. According to the State Sanitary Code, common areas requiring smoke detectors include lobbies, common corridors, and hallways. Within individual units, smoke detectors must be present in or around each bedroom. There are also maintenance and testing provisions that require periodic inspection to ensure the smoke detectors are operating properly. Landlords can contract away this obligation and require tenants to maintain the smoke detectors in their own units. If this is not written out in your rental agreement, then the responsibility falls on your landlord.

What Can I Do if My Landlord Does Not Have Functioning Smoke Detectors?

If your landlord violates the sanitation code by failing to have functioning smoke detectors, you can give the landlord notice of the problem. If the landlord fails to install smoke detectors or repair present ones you may withhold rent. You should know that a landlord cannot evict you for failure to pay rent if that rent was withheld because the landlord failed to keep the apartment in good condition. You must prove that the landlord knew of the problem before you stopped paying rent. A case like this may result in an order for the landlord to repair or install smoke detectors, require you to pay some of your withheld rent, or actually require your landlord to pay you if the court determined the living conditions were very bad.

What if There is a Fire as a Result of My Negligent Landlord?

If your home catches on fire, and your landlord failed to maintain functioning smoke detectors, you may have a case that they acted negligently. Negligence occurs when a person does not use a standard level of care, and their careless actions lead to your injury. Your attorney must prove four things.

  1. The landlord had a duty
  2. The landlord breached that duty
  3. The breach caused an injury to you or your property
  4. That injury entitles you to damages

Landlord’s have a duty to ensure that the property’s they rent out are safe and habitable. When you notify your landlord of something that there is no functioning smoke detector, and they fail to repair it or install one, they breach that duty. Causation may be tricky in these matters. Your attorney will have to prove that the failure to maintain a functioning smoke detector was the actual and proximate cause of the property damage resulting from the fire. If you are successful, damages will likely compensate you for your property damage and any medical costs associated with your injuries.

What Should I Do if My Apartment Catches on Fire?

The first priority is always your health. Seek medical attention for your injuries. Try and make a list of everything that was lost or damaged in the fire, and make a copy of the fire inspectors report. Taking pictures is always helpful as well to show evidence of the damage. Afterwards, contact one of our experienced apartment fire lawyers for a free case evaluation. We can give you a good idea of how your cace may play out if you sue your landlord. At Altman & Altman, we work and live in Boston, Cambridge and all around the Massachusetts area. We understand how many people rely on apartments to live in, and how devastating a fire can be. We also have over 50 years of experience fighting on behalf of our clients, and will provide unparalleled legal expertise ensure the best chances of success for your claim.

Call us for a free consultation today at 617.492.3000 or toll-free at 800.481.6199. We are available 24/7.

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