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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150 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • C Franklin

    I resided at a apartment in Oklahoma City about 11 and a half months ago they put the freeze warning sign out to drip your faucets so the pipes won’t freeze or bust but they did not drip the faucets in a vacant unit behind me causing the pipes to bust and flood out my apartment at this time they were willing to let me out of my lease I had to pay rent til I found a place to live and also $500 deductible on my renters insurance I lost days from work am I able to sue them?

  • Ashley Selvey

    We are renting a trailer in va and this place keeps having more and more problems, bathtub leaks, toilet leaks, in the past there was water damage at the washer bc we found black mold and in the vents and bathrooms, but the doors looks like they was kicked in at some point, carpet hasn’t been changed in 25 to 30 years, there are multiple leaks under the trailer bc our water bill is $160 a month (just water) Told the landlord months ago still no one came to fix. But here’s the worst part the back steps are rotten and they kept breaking so the landlord told my husband if he fixed them she would knock off rent then he cut off 2 fingers and now told him not to fix anything she has her own people, 2 days later a board broke needs another surgur

  • Michelle peppin

    I was visiting my daughter up in the attic there is no attic door I fell out and hurt my foot about to go for CT scan is landlord liable

  • Jim Johnson

    Stupid ass doesn’t even know how to write. What the hell do they go to school for. Waste of tax dollars.

  • Donna Sarube

    Yes I’d like to sue my landlord for emotional distress negligence breach of contract Etc…

  • Tammy Meade

    Fell and hurt rotator cuff stretched and knee

  • Cheryl S Shollack

    I leaned my foot against a window – at my APT – and it went right through the glass, injuring me very badly. 14 stitches, muscles torn, 4 weeks and counting of not be
    I was stretching and dancing and meant to put my foot on the wall but got the window, instead. My thing is – the glass is on ground level, in a common area, and is very thin, and poorly fitted.
    It’s not safe. There are glass thickness requirements? Building code violations? They are trying to
    make me pay $100. I believe they are negligent because the glass is too thin and unsafe. If someone knocks on it or leans on it they will go through and severely hurt themselves.
    Do I have a case? Would it be personal injury or landlord/tenant? Can I file my self? Can I go to small clai

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Cheryl,

      Sorry to hear about your injury. Unfortunately no one here will be able to tell you if you have a case. You’ll need to talk to a lawyer, who is really the only person qualified to give legal advice.

      • cheryl

        Thank you, Lucas Hall.
        Do you know how I can get a lawyer?
        I called around and even called the State Bar. The lawyer I spoke with, over the phone, said:
        “I may have a case”, and “would call me back”, but, did not call me back.
        I am in a lower-end APT. I don’t have any money. I cannot afford a lawyer, that’s why I was asking on here. Thank You very much for your time and response.

        • Ana

          Hello Cheryl,

          It would really help to know which state you are in. In some states the building code require certain thickness of a glass, and if it up to code then not much you can do. The landlord can turn around and take you to court for damages or take your deposit. As a landlord myself, my advise negotiate with property manager.
          Good Luck,

  • Gail Hunt

    I fell down my stairs at my apartment in Benbrook Texas, I have cracked and uneven landing which caused me to fall. the office management said they were going to give me an incident report to fill out. Now they want give one. How can I find their “Property Management” insurance carrier to file a claim? Thanks!

  • Sidney

    If the office manager of a mobile home park physically attacks a tenant, is the mobile home park liable for injuries

  • Tiffany Golden

    The upstairs neighbor toilet was overflowing and it leak downstairs to my apartment. Call the maintenance man he called said it was fixed later the night the tile from the ceiling fell and hit my head. Gave the landlord my doctor bill and nothing has happened yet.

  • Twilight

    I cut my leg on a sharp edge from a gas line that would have connected to a grill that was never removed I received 12 stiches and time off work. I advised landlord he states he will send someone out asap to remove.. I don’t have time to go to court wondering what us a sensible out of court figure

  • Eric Hogarth

    I have a nuisance tenant next door in my apartment that wakes up when I go to bed and has a mental illness shizophrenia and uses drugs I’m sure, I have asked that he be moved into a different suite being the rare few that work, and he has cost me loss of wages from being late to work cause 4 alarms do not wake me up from being kept up with his yelling at himself and stomping on the walls or floor can I do anything about this since my landlord pays no attention to my right to a quiet peaceful home

  • Eric Hogarth

    I have a nuisance tenant next door in my apartment that wakes up when I go to bed and has a mental illness shizophrenia and uses drugs I’m sure, I have asked that he be moved into a different suite being the rare few that work, and he has cost me loss of wages from being late to work cause 4 alarms do not wake me up from being kept up with his yelling at himself and stomping on the walls or floor can I do anything about this since my landlord pays no attention to my right to a quiet peaceful home

  • Leigh halls

    My landlord is selling house. I’ve known him for over 30yrs. I moved in to help his son my best friend. House has been on market 5mths. No one has looked at it. I have medical problems that he’s aware of I’m heat incorporate. Its 100°+ and have to wear 30/40 compression hose. Am having bad heat related issues. But he still wants me to pack can I sue him for causing me more health problems?

  • Kenneth

    If my landlord asks me to install a bathroom vanity and do other work on the rental and I hurt my back are they liable?

  • Kim

    Hurt bad working in the yard . the property owner wanted the hugh lot taking care of and kept up, well i fell 5 ft off a ladder while trimming bushes. I had a trauma surgeon and a arn surgeon both operating on me at once in tbe OR. Still trying to recover

  • Jordan

    Can I sue landlords after I fell on property and had knee surgery but it’s been 2 year and knee is still a problem


    Me and my family live in a house near a power tower. We all have noticeable health issues. There are hundreds of holes through the house from emfs, radiation, I don’t know exactly what but my landlord has patched or disguised hundreds of them but has denied it, just for more holes to pop through or break through his patch jobs. Can we sue him.

  • Aleta Ratliff

    A tree fell through our family room at the home I rent during after maths of hurricane Micheal . I received a nasty concussion from the roof and Sheetrock falling. I have been to the ER, My Primary Care Physicians and then referred to Neurologist. I will remain out of work for at least 6 more weeks, am being sent to Concussion Therapy and MRI. Have vision difficulty, headaches, no sleep , dizziness, lack of concentration, personality changes, PTSD, and memory difficulties. Is my landlords Insurance liable? Thank You, Aleta

  • D.

    I was stabbed in the hallway of my landlord building. By downstairs tenants and there family is landlord liable. Same tenants threatened earlier that year a couple months to stab me on back porch I took pictures landlord did nothing. And a couple months before that they tried jumping me . Is landlord liable

  • Shawna

    I was put in a unit in a buildimg with infestion of mice and roaches and after moving in 3 days the board of bealth came out to do a rechexk and wverything 1as in violation and i had to make two comaints to g2t out of thwre for my sons safey and dxhd kmew his ada waa for safe housing wuth full accwss kitchen permwnr due to his feesing speciiat woudnt see him until in a home to continue tbe rrwatmwnt plan also the judge ordered me.ro.gwt housing and they are purpoy doing tbinvs and had my sons list of diagnosis so long and hua.fonditions worst i have thw pre ren5al release rwport

  • Starlet Barnett

    I just moved into a mobile home in Oklahoma. I’ve noticed little things here and there but my main concern was the old wall heater and my kids getting hurt from it. First it’s not stable on the wall second I was worried about my boys getting burned. When I asked if they could replace it. The answer I got was what do you expect for the price of rentals out here. So last night my 2 year old lossed his footing as he was playing and bumped the heater and got burned from it. What can I do?

  • Jitka

    Hello, would you give me an advice, please?
    We were renting our house and we had have a Property Management Company to take care everything regarding the house. We rented our house 1 tenant for 1 year. We had contract with Management Property for 1 year as well. Last week a have gotten an email from former Property Management company . The former tenant suits us for injury his son – hurting on the stairs. The Property Management Company sent us email that we have to contact our homeowner insurance. I think the tenant should contact his rental insurance first .
    Thank you

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