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Fire at Parents Rental Property

October 11th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

My parents own several rental properties, mostly duplexes. They had one trailer (this was actually their first home that they moved out of 26 years ago) and about a week ago it burned down. The cause of the fire was under investigation and I have not heard an update on it yet, but sounds like probably was a cigarette left unattended on the deck. Everyone got out ok and no injuries, but they did lose their cat. Frown
The deck was where the fire began and the deck, living room and kitchen were affected the most. The fire did not spread to the bedrooms or bathroom, but of course everything was engulfed in smoke and soot.
My parents are obviously upset because their rentals are a big part of their retirement income. All of the rentals are paid off and the money goes into a joint account (my parents divorced amicably a few years ago). My Mom is 57 and she retired a few years ago. My Dad is 59 and will probably retire in the next 5 years or so. Not only do they lose the income from the property, but they also have to pay to have the trailer pulled out of the trailer court and disposed of, and to have the lot cleaned up so the trailer park can rent the spot to someone else. Luckily my parents are great at saving a buck (I LEARNED FROM THE BEST!) and they are doing what they can to soften the blow. They sold the shed for $50, they sold a separate room (my Dad had built on to the trailer 20+ years ago) for $100 (this also saved on the cost for pulling it out), they also sold the water heater (I think for $50?). Of course they have insurance on the building, so they will get that, but in the long run it doesnít help much. They also took out the toilet, the kitchen sink, the washer and dryer, and a few other items that they could salvage and keep to use on their other rentals as needed.
So my Mom called the renter and told them to make sure they come and take everything they can before they pull the trailer out. The girl comes by and essentially tells my Mom she canít save anything there and leaves. Yes, I feel bad about the fire, but if I had that happen to me and had nothing now, I would be on my hands and knees digging through the soot trying to save anything I could. She just doesnít want to put any effort or elbow grease into it. So once she said she didnít need want anything else in there my Mom went through and took anything worth value. She got 2 whole garbage bags of food, mostly canned goods, (the kitchen wasnít actually one fire, but it is off the living room where the fire was), and also some boxed items, cereals, pastas and taco shells, all unopened, nothing burned, just has marks where the smoke was. What is wrong with them? NOTHING! She also got a blender, an electric griddle and over 200 DVDs! The DVDs were in the living room, and the cases on all of them are a little melted, but there are nothing wrong with the DVDs, she tried them in her DVD player and they work fine, so she is going to clean them off as best she can and see if she can get $1 a piece at the rummage sale. So at least they will get some money back from this lossÖbut I just canít believe that girl left all that stuff there when she has nothing. She even left her daughterís baby pictures there after my Mom specifically pointed them out and asked her if she wanted to take them. 
My Mom gave me a bag of food as well, mostly boxed pasta and rice. I will go through that this weekend to make sure everything is ok and get it transferred into better containers.

9 Responses to “Fire at Parents Rental Property ”

  1. Looking Forward Says:

    I went though losing pretty much everything in a house fire years ago. It is SO emotionally draining and sad. That said, it's weird to not get the baby pictures.

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    I would guess she is in shock or as LF said...emotionally drained. Maybe your mom could hold the pictures awhile and then send them to her later.

  3. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Oh, that's sad. I hope your parents will save those photos. I suppose the renter was just overwhelmed, not quite in her right mind....On the other hand your parents sound like smart, industrious people. You come from good-uns, don't ya.

  4. Lena Says:

    I am going to be the mean one and say that she sounds like a lazy arse. Seriously, who in their right mind doesn't get their child's baby pictures?!?

  5. snafu Says:

    So many young women in late teen or early 20's reject hard work and seem to feel the world owes them a living. Sorry to be so cynical but I'm guessing the tenant had no renter's insurance and is familiar with the system. She will rely on social service and other agencies to locate new accommodation & replace what she requests.

    She's messed up your parent's retirement plan but when she tells her story it will be their fault that the mobile home caught fire.

  6. HouseHopeful Says:

    I am sorry to hear about your parents rental. It sounds like they are making the best out of a bad situation though.

    However, I am going to play devil's advocate about the renter. As someone who was inside the house during a housefire, it is tramatic and overwhelming. Afterwards, if you have lost everything (or most things) the thought of trying to salvage anything is incredibly overwhelming. Regardless of the reason for the fire (unattended cigarettes are not ok!) the renter could be seeing everything as a loss because it has been tainted by the fire. To this day, I can remember the smell of the house burning. I certainly wouldn't want to bring in boxes of food or dvd cases with smoke damage to where I move to. THe reminder would be too great.

    As for the photos, I echo previous posters. Have your mom save them for a bit & reoffer them to the renter. Right now, she may be over-emotional due to the issue and not thinking straight.


  7. Banker Gurl Says:

    To be perfectly honest the renter was a loser. Sorry to be mean in a horrible situation, but it's the truth. I would allow some leeway for the shock and emotional impact of the fire, but my parents have had numerous issues with her basically trashing the place before this. Also because of the fire, my Mom found out that she had a roomate she had not told us about....seems the roomate was paying her rent directly to our renter....but then the renter was not paying her own rent....HMMMMMM???! So she was making money off her roomate and not paying her landlord. Very classy gal! Frown When this happened she was $600 behind on rent.
    As far as taking any belongings that she could have salvaged, I believe 100% that she is just too lazy, and she will milk the system rather then put in a little effort to help herself and her child. No they did not have renters insurance, and they also did not have car insurane (ILLEGAL) on the car that was parked next to the deck and was totalled.
    Again I apologize if this sounds callous, but if you knew her you would agree.

  8. LuckyRobin Says:

    I feel bad for your parents. Does their insurance cover loss of income or just replacement value of the home?

  9. Banker Gurl Says:

    I believe they are only covered for the value of the home, and since it is a trailer from about 1980ish, I think my Mom said they are getting about $10K - $11K for it. Which is only about a years worth of rent. Plus last year they did a lot of updates (new paint, flooring etc) so all that money and man power is really down the drain.

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