Unfortunately 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.
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.
- 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.
- Fixing dangerous conditions reported by the tenants within a reasonable time period.
- 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.
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.