Every tenant should have renter’s insurance

Every tenant should  have renter’s insurance

Q. I was renting a house with two of my friends. The house burned down because of the electrical fault. We still have six months more to go on lease. We did not have a renter’s insurance. The fire was not our fault. We lost most of our property. We assume the owner has insurance. Can we file to recover for our damages? Can we get compensation toward rent?

A. First, you should not owe rent for the remaining six months. If the fire was an accident, however, not caused by the negligence of the landlord, he and his insurance company have no liability. The insurance company is only liable for damages the landlord would be liable for. You would need to show the landlord didn’t act reasonably in repairing or taking care of the wiring, and that is why the fire occurred. This is why renter’s insurance is so important.


Q. What can I do if someone does not pay back money I loaned her? It is almost $6,000.

A. This could be a case for justice court. Justice court, the new name for small claims court, is the real “People’s Court.” It is informal and easy to use. Before suing, however, you should make a formal demand for payment. You can do this by sending her a letter or e-mail demanding that she pay. Let her know if she doesn’t pay or work out a payment plan, you intend on filing a lawsuit. If she still does not pay, you may file in justice court. Under the law, justice court may hear claims of not more than $10,000.


Q. In 2010, my ex-husband was ordered to pay child support. Since that time he has changed jobs several times and is making much more money. Shouldn’t he be paying me more for support?

A. He probably should be paying more, but until you get the order modified, he has the legal right to keep paying as originally ordered. Either party may go back to court to have a child support order modified whenever there is a substantial change in circumstances. A new job with a higher salary should entitle you to a larger payment. I suggest you speak with a private attorney or the attorney general’s office about modifying the order.


Q. I have been told that even if I file bankruptcy, I will still owe my student loans. Is this true? They are one of my largest debts.

A. As you seem to know, when you file bankruptcy, most of your debts are “discharged.” This means that you no longer have any obligation to pay, and all collection efforts must stop. Not all debts, however, are discharged. Student loans are discharged only if paying them would be an “undue hardship” on the debtor. In most cases, it is very difficult to get a student loan discharged in bankruptcy. I suggest you speak with a consumer bankruptcy attorney to see whether bankruptcy would be a good option for you.


Q. I recently stopped paying on a credit card. I can no longer afford the payments and had to default. I am now concerned that the company will sue me and take my home. Can a credit card company do that?

A. In Texas, there are “exemption” laws that protect some of your property from your creditors. Exempt property in Texas includes your wages, retirement accounts, such as an IRA, most personal property, and your home. For more details about Texas exemption law, visit  www.peopleslawyer.net.