Not many people realize that landlords can be held liable for their renters’ personal injuries.
Landlords can be held legally responsible for injuries from dangerous or unmaintained conditions—things you didn’t tell your renter about that weren’t blatantly obvious.
If the renter reported any dangerous conditions––even if they are self-inflicted––and the landlord didn’t make any attempts to remedy them, the landlord can be held liable, even for a renter’s pain and suffering.
That means, you, the landlord should make sure you’re providing the safest and most secure environment possible for your renters. Check your state’s landlord-tenant laws for specifics.
And look into getting landlord insurance.
What can I be held liable for?
There are lots of safety factors in a rental unit that landlords can be held liable for, including:
- Not bringing a dangerous condition to the attention of the renter
- Violating safety laws
- Fixing a dangerous condition, but doing so in a careless manner
- Not fixing a dangerous condition in a timely manner
For example, suppose an apartment complex has a pool but no fence. A child drowns in the pool. The landlord could be held liable for the child’s death, which could have been prevented if a fence had been installed.
Another case: if a landlord allows dogs, and a dog escapes and attacks another renter, the landlord could be held responsible.
In short, you could be held liable for any circumstance that you knew about, which could cause harm to one of your renters.
Preventing personal injuries of renters
As a landlord, take steps to reduce the risk of injury to your renter. The following suggestions are a great place to start.
- Fix dangerous conditions reported by your renters within a reasonable time period.
- Regularly inspect the rental unit to make sure it is compliant with health and safety regulations and free from potential hazards.
- Ensure there’s adequate water pressure, and proper sewer and gutter drainage.
- Take precautions to prevent problems that could affect a renter’s health or safety in the future.
Does “negligence” apply to me?
Currently, the “law of negligence” means a landlord is responsible to protect their renter from foreseeable third-party criminal assaults.
For example, if a renter is raped on the apartment complex’s grounds, can they sue you? If you had a similar incident happen in the past but did not inform them, then yes, they can pursue a case against you.
Take the necessary security precautions, such as warning your renters about the past incident, changing the locks, or installing security cameras around your property.
Whatever the case, your renter will have to prove that their injuries were a direct result of your negligence and that more security precautions could have prevented the third-party criminal assault.
Build a team of lawyers
Even if you’re not in the process of being sued, it’s smart to be prepared. Build a connection with a few different types of lawyers, including real estate, personal injury, and those who specialize in landlord-tenant law, just in case you need them.