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Tenants Escape Liability for Fire Damage

April 13, 2015

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently found that a landlord could not pursue tenants for fire damage caused by the tenants. 

In Gauthier v. Elkins, unpublished opinion* of the Court of Appeals, issued November 13, 2014 (Docket No. 317347), the landlord leased an apartment to two tenants. After the tenants’ minor son started a fire which damaged the apartment, the landlord filed suit against the tenants and their son. While the lease imposed certain obligations on the tenants to maintain the apartment, nothing in the lease indicated that the tenants could be liable to the landlord if they negligently caused fire damage to the apartment. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s dismissal of the landlord’s case.

*When opinions from the Michigan Court of Appeals are not published, they are not binding on Michigan courts. However, they may be considered persuasive when they are applicable to future cases.

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