Over 40 million households—representing more than one-third of the U.S. population—live in rental housing owned by someone else. Some commentators have even suggested that apartment living is “the new American dream,” representing the convenience of flexible living without the hassles of home maintenance and building repair.
The trouble is that living on someone else’s property means you have to trust your landlord to take on those maintenance and repair jobs. Legally, the owner of the building has a responsibility to keep you, your family, and your visitors safe. He must act with reasonable speed to fix anything that goes wrong that would endanger the building’s occupants. Not only must he respond to hazards about which he knows, but he also must respond to hazards about which he should know or about which he would have known if he were acting as a responsible property owner.
Fire Hazards in North Carolina Rental Properties
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, “deaths from fires and burns are the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury deaths and the third leading cause of fatal residential injuries in the United States.” Certainly there is a significant risk of injury from household fires in North Carolina rental housing. The variety of items that can lead to fires, smoke, and burn injuries in a Wilmington apartment or rental house are truly eye-opening:
- Defective electric wiring, ungrounded outlets, or dangerous lighting fixtures
- Leaks from faucets and pipes that carry hot water
- Defective furnaces and hot water heaters
- Flammable furnishings, including furniture
- Leaky natural gas lines
- Storage of hazardous flammable materials near residential areas, including fireworks, clothing, rags, solvents, and propane canisters
- Faulty refrigerators, stoves, and other appliances in furnished housing
- Defective space heaters and air conditioners
- Failure to maintain fire safety equipment (sprinkler systems, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers) in workable order, or failure to provide that equipment entirely
- Failure to provide warning signs or adequate instructions about dangers
Preserving Your Legal Rights
Your landlord may be legally liable if you or your family members have been injured in a household fire in North Carolina rental housing. If the landlord failed in his duty to keep you safe from hazards, then you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries, lost income, disability, and other losses. If a defective product was involved, you may also have a legal claim against the manufacturer.
You need the advice of an experienced Wilmington injury attorney to determine if your case can get you the compensation you need. Call the Speaks Law Firm today at 877-593-4233 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team. We don’t get paid a cent until you get a recovery.