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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116 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Lori

    My stove caught fire and caused damage to kitchen appliances and also burned my hand i got 2nd and 3rd degree burns will his insurance take care of the bills

  • Tomisena

    I am a property manager and I am being ripped apart by the home owner. In the beginning the tenants moved in the home and realized the smoke detectors were not working and also mold. The home is very dated, and the owner of the home did not get these things fixed which cause the tenant to go be hospitalized due to his chronic asthma twice. 3 months went by and the tenants asked again if the home would be fixed and the answer was from the owner if they pay $100 to home warranty she would fix it. The tenants paid on time each month. The next month the tenants skipped out because they were tired of being told no and getting sick. Now the owner wants to sue for the remainder of the lease and damages. She did get the deposit for them leaving.

  • anthony

    if a land lord expects tenants to maintain the property such as yard maintenance and the tenant is injured who is liable

  • Pamela

    Ok I’m on house arrest an met this guy on line was honest with him after talking a lil while he said he wanted me to move in with him I did not but then after talking a while long I did with the notion we were going to be a couple well this did happen for about 2 1/2 months he started acting different so he had one of his roomers move out so I moved in to the room with the idea of helping him clean after this man an 2 sons an pay $300 monthly this was my understanding well Dec2017 on of the sons had a friend move in an his gf an 5 yr son which I still had cleaned up after an told him I did not think it was fair that I was getting $.66 h at 150m low side. Now I’ve been assulted an told not to got police an now was asked to leave asap wtd

  • Lena bibbo

    I am disabled both mentally and physically as a victim of a violent crime my landlord reenacted the exact same crime against me. She has berated me with emails taxes coming into my home without my consent over and over again and I need to know what remedy I have

    • Bluizeadream

      Ihave been studying housing information about these things for a year now…..Yes they are liable but find the right people to help.. good luck!!!

  • Derrick

    My landlord and his son showed up to cut my power lines and water lines to force me to move and the son hit me in the face with a wooden handle…. can I sue them

  • Kimberly Morris

    I rent a mobile home in a Mobile Home/RV park in Klamath Falls, OR. The ground outside of our mobile home is very uneven with various dips. As a result, I twisted my ankle which resulted in a “complete” sprain. I am scheduled to have MRIs done next week to determine additional damages to my ankle as a result of twisting it. Is it the landlord/Owner’s responsibility to make sure that ground is level and free from dips, holes, etc?

  • Terri Freeman

    I live in apartment unit in Vancouver, WA. The advertised pool is not open..some maintenance issues. I found out from another tenant that the pool was not open last year. Yet, they advertise they have a functional pool and hot tub. Isn’t this breach of duty?
    Additionally, I just went in to get maintenance request to have my dryer replaced since the heating element went out and the dials are unable to be ready any longer, due to age. I was told it’s not part of my contract that they maintain their washer dryers. I believe all appliances included in your agreement are to be maintained in safe working condition. Isn’t this also breach of contract?

  • Mp

    I’ve asked my landlord to rebuild my stair case because they were unsafe and in negligence of her to do so,i fell and broke my arm do i have a valid case?

  • Monica

    My landlord did not want to pay me for work I did with a major water leak in basement she told me to take care of it and let her know when it came time to deduct from rent, she refused. Told me I had to get out in 30 days. 3 days later her son who I haven’t seen in a year came to my house screaming for me to get out I went to close my door he pushed my door back open and hit me in the face now he is showing up at my boyfriends work and always driving past my housr. I have 30 days to move and now have to get rid of my cat that I had since a kitten cuz no place will accept pets. Can I sue my landlord for wrongful eviction and assult from her son and distress because I have to get rid of my cat and harassment at my boyfriends work.

  • DEREK

    i was a tenant and informed the land lord of unknown people laying on the couch.he said he would take care of it.later on the guy sleeping on the couch tried to kill my one of my roomates and i fought the guy off.three dats later they cuaght the man and he was a fugitive on the run for multiple murders.i was traumatized and couldnt go to work.i have been in a mental institution for ptsdm almost three months.can i sue my landlord.please reply

  • Couny

    My 3 month old baby was hoplized because my apartments fail too fix my air inside my apartment’s do any one no a lawyer that can help my case

  • LouAnn Dampson

    Taking my 5 lb dog out to void in the morning at 0540a. About 15 feet a woman arrived with a vicious aggressive pit bull.
    The dog saw my Yorkie and started barking violently pulling and fighting with the owner. I saw this threatening dog and so did my future husband coming down the steps to the scene. I ran away from the upcoming dog in fear of my life. I fell on cement where there were rocks from a planter they never clean up which also was involved in my fall. I have sustained severe injuries. My humerus is impacted with 3 fractures. I am a nurse and cannot work. The rest goes with the disability I have sustained along with other diagnosed injuries. I was told here’s a bottle of water get well and we don’t want to upset the owner.

  • Naomi

    I have been on disability leave but cud not get better due to property renovations. I have asked the landlord to hold off until I’m a bit better….But they selling now and want to break and build around me….The painting and chemicals are toxic for my already compromised lung conditions…..What can I do?

  • June

    My sister was murdered at an illegal boarding house. She didn’t live there, however she was murdered by a person who does live there. He has been convicted of the crime. My sisters body was found on the property. My question, Can I sue the home owners of the illegal rooming house?

  • Alma Fontanez

    Landlord rented a house with air qualiity issues due to paint fumes and replacement of carpets at the unit. My son and I are cronic asthmatics amd high semsibility plus allergies. We have been unable to move to the unit due to the smell. We are living in a hotel, my son visited the house once and got sick. His Asthma is so bad that he has missed two weeks of school. I got sick as well. We are getting in a financial struggle since we have to pay the hotel and rent. We have not been able to move but our house goods are in that house. All this situation is bringing the whole family mayor emotional distress. Talked wirh Property Manager and they seems unsympathetic with our situation. What we do? We are desperate…

  • Lisa

    I’m pregnant and our neighbors have caused us an incredible amount of stress. They smoked so much that the smoke seeped into our unit. The landlord threatened eviction and they stopped but now smoke in the garage and the smoke is going into my car. They are involved in criminal activity and we’ve alerted the management. We are not comfortable around them. We also witnessed domestic abuse between them including a child abduction. The landlord still has yet to evict them. I’ve spent almost my entire pregnancy stressed out in some way from the tenants next door and have begged the landlords to get rid of them. One of the tenants next door is not even on the lease and he is the cause for most of the problems. Can we sue for emotional distress?

  • Bluizeadream

    Ihave been studying housing information about these things for a year now…..Yes they are liable but find the right people to help.. good luck!!!

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