Why Landlords are Liable for the Personal Injuries of Tenants

Written on December 4, 2013 by , updated on June 7, 2014

Landlord Liability of Personal InjuriesUnfortunately Yes, a Landlord can be liable for the personal injury of tenants. 

But there are conditions.

When renting out your property, you need to make sure that you’re providing the safest and most secure environment possible for your tenants to live in.

Liability 101

Generally, you can be held legally responsible for injuries from dangerous or unmaintained conditions in which you didn’t inform your tenant about and that aren’t blatantly obvious.

If the tenant has reported any dangerous conditions (even if they are self-inflicted), and you have not made any attempts to remedy them, you can (and probably will) be held liable.

What Exactly Could I Be Held Liable For?

According to Every Landlord’s Legal Guide by Nolo:

A tenant can file a personal injury lawsuit or claim against the landlord’s insurance company for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and other physical suffering, permanent physical disability and disfigurement, and emotional distress. A tenant can also sue for damage to personal property, such as a stereo or car, that results from faulty maintenance or unsafe conditions.

There are a lot of safety factors that you can be held liable for when renting out a unit to a tenant:

  • Not fixing a dangerous condition in a timely manner
  • Fixing a dangerous condition, but doing so in a careless manner
  • Not bringing a dangerous condition to the attention of the tenant
  • Violating safety laws

For example, if you own an apartment complex that has a pool with no fence, you could be held liable in the case that a child drowned in the pool.  Or, if you allow your tenants to have dogs and one dog escapes and attacks another tenant, you could technically be held responsible.

In short, any circumstance that you knew about that could cause harm to any one of your tenants could be a reason that you would be found potentially liable.

Preventing Personal Injuries of Tenants

As a landlord, you must take steps to reduce the risk of injury to your tenant.  The following suggestions are a great place to start.

  1. Regularly inspect the rental unit to make sure it is compliant with health and safety regulations and free from potentials hazards. This includes things like adequate water pressure, property sewer and gutter drainage.
  2. Fixing dangerous conditions reported by the tenants within a reasonable time period.
  3. Keep your tenants safe in all facets of your rental unit.  This includes taking precautions to prevent problems that could affect a tenant’s health or safety in the future.

Does “Negligence” Apply to Me?

Currently, the law of negligence means that you’re responsible to protect your tenant from foreseeable third-party criminal assaults.

For example, if a tenant is raped on the apartment complex’s grounds, can he or she sue you?  If you had a similar incident happen in the past but didn’t inform him or her, he or she can definitely pursue a case against you.

You’ll want to take the necessary security precautions such as warning your tenants about the past incident to ensure vigilance, changing the locks, or installing security cameras around your property.

In Texas, a landlord must rekey a unit between tenancies (Title 8, Chapter 92.156)

Whatever the case, your tenant will have to prove that his or her injuries were a direct result from your negligence and that more security precautions could have prevented the third party criminal assault.

Build a List of Lawyers

Even if you’re not currently being sued, it is a smart idea to build a connection with a few different types of lawyers (i.e. real estate, personal injury, landlord-tenant) just incase you ever need them.

photo credit: Steven Burke via cc
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174 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Falisha

    I was renting a mobile home in TX. My home burned down and we losed everything, even our 2 beloved dogs and snake. The landlord knew the home had electrical problems and water damage do to a hell storm. The fire was ruled electrical in the walls because water damage.he won’t do anything to help and I am literally lost on what to do. We have nothing anymore, my husband abandoned me and my 3 kids? Is my landlord at fault because he knew about the problems?
    Thank you

  • Frankie Misino

    If my tenets child slams And brake the glass shower door and hurts themselves is it the landlord responsible to pay for medical bills and subject to a lawsuit

  • catherine paquette

    my landlord has NEVER paid me interest on the money I gave him when i moved in I paid first last and security. I moved in 17 years ago. Also he comes into my house without notice goes through the laundry

  • tyler smalls

    A year ago, I smelt gas. I told my landlord and he told me there aint no smell and why don’t I stop smelling . Then last week my mom fell through the floor of my mobile home . I in western kentucky. she was about to set down when the floor just gave out. And now her chairs stuck and the gas is back. Can I sue him for the nusance of that smell and for the hole my mom made?

  • Lou

    My 11 yr. Old daughter slipped on the sidewalk due to ice, there was NO salt down. She has a severe contusion of her lower back and pelvic area, what can I do?

  • Jimesha Jones

    I was walking on the street at my apartment, and I got to a part of the apartment where it’s really dark and you can barely see and I fell and fractured my ankle because the street is all broken up and I wasn’t aware that it was like that otherwise I would of walked a different way. Can I sue my apartment for that?

  • Melissa Waters

    My landlord installed security cameras on the property. However all 3 cameras (include audio recording) are p[inted DIRECTLY at my front and back doors ONLY. Nothing overlooking his apartment , the other tenants, nor ANY place else on the property. Is this legal?

  • Ellen

    My daughter apt was broken into and was raped

  • Marcus Woods

    Yes I was renting a moblie and I had water damage from a busted pipe under the moblie home in October it took the lardlord to fix my problem 2 month to fix the problem well this is what happens when they fixed the the lardlord maintenance people did secure the carpet the moblie home we’ll in the moblie my foot got caught up the carpet I trip and fell broke 2 bones In my right ankle had to take medical leave from my job and hired a attorney he want to that the case to trial note this they left the property didn’t t come back to repair the flooring in the home left the wood and everything out never returned to fix well my lawyer founded out he had no insurance on his mobile nor his other rental property can u tell me what bout to happen

  • Rodney Troyer

    Well. It has been two months of harassment. Landlord has vandalized my bike, poured something on my new bed. Called me a fucken queer and fair. Has been banging on my floor all different times of day. And more. So,? Police have been called over 9 times. So I decided to move out. And a guy working for my landlord. Assaulted me broke 3 ribs when he punched me at the top of stairs I fell all the way down and he continued to hit me. I have two back eyes,a sprained finger, he got a knife that fell off my belt , he really was going to try to kill me with it. Been to hospital now 3 times. Also? Punched me in the nose. And kuck me as I was falling. Than kneed me my back. He wouldn’t stop tell other tenants stooped him. What are my rights? Truly.

  • Rodney Troyer

    Missed spelled. Landlord has called me fucken fag
    . More than once. Queer. We have cameras but always has an accuse. They are not working. Or I am not recording right now. Ext…

  • mary carter grahame

    Rodney, I hope you filed an assault and battery charge against him and had pictures of your injuries.
    don’t let him get away with that because he’ll do it to another person too.

  • Natalie

    I fell off the roof of the apartment I’m renting a few weeks ago trying to cross a plank that the construction crew had left behind. There were no “no trespassing” signs and I have never been told to stay off the roof. I fell three stories, broke my back and my leg in two places. Can I sue?

    • G

      It’s called common sense! Just bc you can doesn’t mean that you should! No! You can’t Sue! In fact situations like this are the reason behind why so many tenants have trouble suing in court!

  • Greg

    I was living in a house (in se wisconsin) with my girlfriend ,who is disabled. My yard was at 3″ in high well within the city limits and no where in the rental contract did it specify the height.
    When my landlord called very mad and orders my girlfriend to have the grass cut immediately.
    I cut the grass ,during a very hot day, to appease my land lord and have my 2nd stroke.
    My question in since i was ordered to cut the lawn with no recourse ,is the landlord liable??

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