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Fire at neighboring townhome -- no insurance
Old 07-23-2020, 11:01 AM   #1
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Fire at neighboring townhome -- no insurance

DH and I own a townhome that we have rented out for ~27 years.

We own unit #8. Tuesday morning, there was a major fire next door at #9. No one was injured, but #9 is totally burned and has been deemed uninhabitable. The utilities have been turned off and the building is marked "Do not enter".

There was no burn damage to our unit, but the FD did enter our unit (with the permission and cooperation of the tenants) to go into the attic to check for fire. After the fire next door was extinguished, the FD set up fans to clear smoke from our unit.

Our renters have renter's insurance and are dealing with their own company for their needs/claims. DH talked to the owner of #9 and she says that she does not have HO insurance (!) and apparently no money to rebuild. She has a history in the neighborhood and I suspect some mental illness.

We have decided to sell our unit. The reasons why could fill another thread, so let's not debate that here. We are simplifying our finances and it's time for the rental to go.

My question is, do we have any recourse available against the owner of #9 (or the HOA) if #9 is not cleaned up / rebuilt in a timely manner? We have minimal (if any) smoke damage to our unit and insurance to pay for any necessary repairs. But being located next to a burned-out unit will not be a selling point in our favor. What actions should we take, questions asked, notices made, etc?
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Old 07-23-2020, 11:16 AM   #2
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Does HOA have insurance for this type of situation? HOA lawyer? I would start there. You are not the only homeowner affected by this.
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Old 07-23-2020, 11:19 AM   #3
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HOA lawyer? I would start there. You are not the only homeowner affected by this.
This. You have too many questions/variables that make getting information from a bunch of internet strangers confusing if not useless or straight up wrong.
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Old 07-23-2020, 11:21 AM   #4
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Also, owner, of Townhouse, in California. (400+ complex). Monthly HOA, fee, covers liability, and "rebuild", of all common areas. Cannot understand how your "complex", can not carry "fire" insurance?
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Old 07-23-2020, 12:57 PM   #5
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I feel like in all the RE will have looked at for snowbirding, any complex involving shared walls and such that the HOA mandated it and charged it as part of the fees. Hopefully this is what's going on here. Now maybe your homeowner doesn't have personal insurance involving her inside possessions. That's what they meant by homeowners. Inside smoke damage to possessions would be covered by that company.

Also you say townhome how many units are connected together in your building?
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Old 07-24-2020, 01:23 PM   #6
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This. You have too many questions/variables that make getting information from a bunch of internet strangers confusing if not useless or straight up wrong.
yep, buy an hour from an atty specializing in RE.
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Old 07-24-2020, 02:38 PM   #7
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So far we have notified our tenants that they have until the end of August to move their stuff out, started a claim with our insurance company in case we have to make expensive repairs, and contacted the HOA management company.

Cutting our tenants loose was a good decision. They claim they “can’t possibly sleep in the house” because of the smoke odor (that DH cannot even detect) and are staying in a hotel. If we tried to keep them in the unit it would be nothing but complaints.
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Old 07-24-2020, 02:45 PM   #8
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So far we have notified our tenants that they have until the end of August to move their stuff out, started a claim with our insurance company in case we have to make expensive repairs, and contacted the HOA management company.

Cutting our tenants loose was a good decision. They claim they “can’t possibly sleep in the house” because of the smoke odor (that DH cannot even detect) and are staying in a hotel. If we tried to keep them in the unit it would be nothing but complaints.
Will you have to pay for the tenant's hotel stay, or their renters insurance will?
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Old 07-24-2020, 04:04 PM   #9
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So far we have notified our tenants that they have until the end of August to move their stuff out, started a claim with our insurance company in case we have to make expensive repairs, and contacted the HOA management company.

Cutting our tenants loose was a good decision. They claim they “can’t possibly sleep in the house” because of the smoke odor (that DH cannot even detect) and are staying in a hotel. If we tried to keep them in the unit it would be nothing but complaints.
Are you sure you can get rid of them in the current COVID climate?
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Old 07-24-2020, 04:33 PM   #10
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T was on the board of my condo for many years. The condo insurance policy should cover the rebuild. We had a similar problem with a fire in the garage of a unit. The renters had no insurance, so we could not go after them for negligence.
Our personal insurance covered everything from the paint inwards.
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Old 09-01-2020, 06:31 PM   #11
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Time for an update.

The tenants were totally moved out by yesterday (8/31). In mid August they asked if we would sell the townhouse to them, but when we told them our price they backed out. Units the same size as ours (but updated) are going for $240K and up; we offered to sell to the tenants for $215K (realizing that ours is not as nicely outfitted after more than twenty years as a rental).

DH and I walked through the house last night. There is absolutely no smoke odor. The house is in need of some interior fresh paint, which we will do, and renovations to both bathrooms (which we do not want to do). We’ve discussed it and we would rather lower the price than put the money and effort into renovations. It’s supposedly a sellers market so maybe we will get lucky and find a buyer willing to remodel to his/her taste.

We put a “for sale” sign out front to see if we get any nibbles. I won’t be able to start the painting until after Labor Day and we don’t want to get a realtor involved until we’ve cleaned up the unit a bit.

The burned-out unit next door sold for $65K to a flipper. He’s started the cleanup and rehab so I’m not worried about being next to a rotting shell of a house. Since he’s flipping the house he will be incentivized to finish quickly.
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Old 09-01-2020, 09:34 PM   #12
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Time for an update.

The tenants were totally moved out by yesterday (8/31). In mid August they asked if we would sell the townhouse to them, but when we told them our price they backed out. Units the same size as ours (but updated) are going for $240K and up; we offered to sell to the tenants for $215K (realizing that ours is not as nicely outfitted after more than twenty years as a rental).

DH and I walked through the house last night. There is absolutely no smoke odor. The house is in need of some interior fresh paint, which we will do, and renovations to both bathrooms (which we do not want to do). We’ve discussed it and we would rather lower the price than put the money and effort into renovations. It’s supposedly a sellers market so maybe we will get lucky and find a buyer willing to remodel to his/her taste.

We put a “for sale” sign out front to see if we get any nibbles. I won’t be able to start the painting until after Labor Day and we don’t want to get a realtor involved until we’ve cleaned up the unit a bit.

The burned-out unit next door sold for $65K to a flipper. He’s started the cleanup and rehab so I’m not worried about being next to a rotting shell of a house. Since he’s flipping the house he will be incentivized to finish quickly.

With a sellers' market and the unit next door sold and fixed up, it sounds like you are in good shape. Thanks for the update.
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