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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190 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

    • Andrew

      They do have this really simple and cheap thing called renters insurance. Now yes while he may have a liability here with the fire be an electrical issue that he may have ignored you also have a responsibility to protect your own assets.

      • Juanita Isom

        1) I was injured due to whitewater tank housing was swinging that cause 5 herniated cervical disc and temporary memory problems. 2) rain coming in the apt. Caused mold. Took 5 months to fix. Cause illiness. 3) bad odor in building . Management says they don’t smell anything. Unkempt dogs excrete all over flora carpet and ekevators.

  • 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…

    • Valerie Kumra

      Rodney, that’s far beyond landlord liability. That’s assault and battery and possibly a hate crime. I really hope you’re okay, found a safe place to live and were able to get that POS off the street.

  • 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??

  • Mike Noble

    This blog was extremely helpful. I really appreciate your kindness in sharing this with me and everyone else!

    -Mike Nobles

  • Mike Noble

    Extremely helpful post. This is my first time i visit here. I discovered such a large number of intriguing stuff in your blog particularly its exchange. Truly its extraordinary article. Keep it up.

    -Mike Noble

  • D

    I told my complex my heater was not turning off when the thermostat hit the desired temperature in fact it wound not turn off unless I turned off the heater all the way. So they came in 5 days later while I was at work and attempted to fix it and left it on assuming the problem was fixed. I didnt get home til almost 10 pm which they stop working at 5pm so for I’m assuming at least 5 hours my apartment was almost 100 degrees since the heater didnt shut off. I have a long haired tabby cat that was pretty much dying at the door when I got home and I had to hold him outside in the 40 degree weather til he cooled down I’m worried he suffered heat exhaustion and has been sick I dont have the money to take him to the vet. Can i sue for negligence?

  • Briana

    I rented a house in yamhill county Oregon and I told my landlord and her husband that there was black mold in the house from the last renters and that I’d like to have it fixed… she never did a thing about it… then I had my son in September… our first trip to the children’s hospital was in November and he had lung related problems but we only stayed 2 days… the second time was in February right before he was 6 months old… everything he has was lung related issues and the doctors only gave me a 30% chance to bring him home… I lost everything because I was not going to leave my sons side… can I sue my landlord

    • D

      My best guess is yes they should have done a walkthrough before the apartment was re-rented and fixed that, I would call the toll free bar association line and speak with a lawyer about that I’m sure they could give you good advice on what your next step should be

  • Sara

    Living in Rental House and it has mold. I paid for a Mold Testing Company to come out and test the air quality and results came back alarming . My Children , Myself , My Dog have been sick since we moved to the landlords first rental house November 2017. October 11th 2019 my dog died because of this . I carry Renters Insurance but, they don’t cover mold . I have been advised to file a claim against my Landlord’s Insurance but, don’t know who his carrier is and My son and I have been displaced for almost 40 days . All of my belongings are contaminated and I need help . I have all of my children’s medical records, my medical records, vet records and I need help ..

  • Charlene Phelps

    I moved into my apartment in late August. My patio door is very heavy. It now being Novemeber and my shoulder hurts really badly. I’ve emailed to have the door looked at or changed. The maintenance guy came and sprayed wd40. It caused the door to be a little easier but it’s still heavy. I have pain in my shoulder that goes up my neck and down to my fingers. I’m sure there is a tear in some tissue or even my rotator cuff is messed up. I asked verbally again for them to look at the door because my shoulder hurts really badly. I cant compensate by using my other arm because I had surgery on it 3 years ago and it’s just as weak as this one. It’s my dominant arm that is now affected. Should I contact a lawyer?

  • Da Realist

    As my husband put groceries on my granite bar we heard aloud crack and the bar fell off the wall injuring my husband we told it was not hung properly let the landlord know and haven’t nothing back can we sue

  • Tonya Black

    What to do I fell in my ex boyfriends rental house due to him spraying furniture polish on a towel and it going through on a laminated floor and hurt my back shoulder and got a concussion and I lost my job due to not being able to return to work because my dr would not release me what can I do

  • Brian K Lindell

    I only just found (upon inspection after ER visit) that my claw tub was missing the clamps to hold two of the claw feet in place on one side – and it slid and tipped over to one side, causing me to roll my ankle. I wasn’t too upset about that outright and called for it to be fixed – but right after (within an hour), I attempted to carry some boxes down the stairs and my ankle I had injured gave out and caused me to tumble down the stairs and now have 15 stitches in my face. Who and how should I contact to help me? I REALLY don’t feel like I was in the wrong, even when I called their ’emergency landlord line’ on a Sunday to report the bathtub, and was told just to call back on Monday as it wasn’t seen as being a critical service.

  • Dolores shaw

    Hurt on landlord property landlords are actually ex brotger inlaw an sistr in law but sonce i fell 8 feet imthey have not spiken to me at all that was in march o was refused to get medical attention i need help no longer living there but my ex husband still rents from them i will have psin rest if my lufe i need help

  • Mary

    I am a renter and the apt has out dated stove an a eye on the old stove malfunctioned while I was cooking and it exploded through the pot and hit my chest and face I’ve got severe burns to my chest and face
    Is this sueable?
    Is my land lord liable for not have up to date appliances or at least having older appliances inspected for malfunctions…

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