A university graduate facing bankruptcy hopes his story leads to tenant insurance becoming mandatory in Nova Scotia.
Three years ago, Chris Dabrowski, 25, was in his last year at Dalhousie University when a fire blazed through the apartment he shared with three others.
The four former roommates are now being sued by their former landlord's insurance company.
One of Dabrowski's roommates accepted the blame because he had left a candle lit in his room and fell asleep. He didn't have tenant insurance, and now has declared bankruptcy.
Dabrowski is trying to avoid doing the same thing and is defending himself. He didn't have insurance either, yet if his parents had been paying his rent, he might have been covered under their policy.
"I was trying to do everything myself, and go through university myself without relying on anyone. Now, because of that, I'm being screwed more," Dabrowski said.
Don Forgeron, with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said most tenants in Nova Scotia don't have insurance because they don't believe they need it.
"People think, 'I only have a few things, I'm only here for school,' not realizing that the primary purpose you'd have it is for liability protection," he said.
Dabrowski would like to see tenant insurance be made mandatory. He estimates that a $130-a-year policy could have protected him from a lawsuit worth more than $20,000, his share of the costs to repair the building.
"The landlord's insurance company, maybe they should make it mandatory, because if they're going to go after the tenants anyhow when something happens, it would save everyone a lot of trouble," he said.
Dabrowski is selling T-shirts to cover some of his legal costs and let other renters know about his case.