Landlord Liability: Everything You Need to Know

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A landlord is responsible for protecting their investment from anything that could lead to loss of value or damage to it. Landlord liability is anything that a landlord can be held liable for from harm or injury caused to or by tenants or by violations of the warranty of habitability, which demands that a tenant has rights to a livable state. Landlords are not automatically liable for all injuries tenants suffer at their rental properties. Tenant's injuries are generally the landlord's responsibility only if the landlord's actions (or inaction) were careless and caused or contributed to the injury. That being said, It isn't a complete shock when sometimes landlords are held liable for injuries to guests or visitors coming to the rental.

Here is a list of things that a landlord can held liable for:

  1. Responsibility for Injuries: If the landlord or agent fails to maintain the property correctly, and this negligence was the proximate cause of the tenant's injury, the landlord is held responsible for the damage. Apart from direct injuries caused to a tenant, a landlord can be held accountable for hiding knowledge of hidden dangers. Landlords must notify tenants about dangerous conditions that might not be obvious such as uneven floors, poorly constructed areas in the property, defective windows and screens, etc., which can cause severe injuries to everyone living in the property.
     
  2. Livable Rentals: Renters are entitled to habitable units from the landlord, even when they don't stipulate this in the lease or rental agreement. The implied warranty of habitability means that tenants have a right to living conditions that meet the most basic health and safety standards. States have different laws regarding habitability, but landlords who fail to comply with basic minimum safety and health standards are likely to be held liable for injury to their tenants. Injured tenants seeking to hold their landlord accountable would have to demonstrate that they violated the implied warranty of habitability and dire living conditions caused their injuries.
     
  3. Criminal Activity: A landlord isn't typically responsible for third-party injuries a tenant suffers; they can however be sued for not taking measures to protect their tenants from crime. They can be held liable for damages when no reasonable steps are taken to prevent harm to tenants after being informed of criminal activity - for example, denying a tenant's request to put more robust locks on the door after a series of break-ins.
     
  4. Additional factors: There are other factors too, for example if the landlord knows that particular breeds of dogs can be dangerous and cause physical harm to others living in and around the property, they are liable for that too. They either need to inform the dog owners (tenants) in advance about the consequences that can be taken in case of injuries and violations or have the dog removed from the property.
     

How can landlords minimize financial losses related to liabilities mentioned above, and how can the landlord liability insurance help?

  • Create a checklist so tenants can report potential safety hazards or maintenance problems that might have gone unnoticed. Use the same list to inspect all rental units once or twice a year personally. In addition, encourage tenants to immediately report safety or security problems, such as broken doors or steps, regardless of whether these are in their unit or a common area.
     
  • The right property insurance policy can protect a landlord's rental property against many types of perils, including fire, storms, burglary, and vandalism. While choosing insurance, keep the following things in mind:
    • Obtain enough coverage to safeguard the assets and value of the property.
    • In addition to physical injury, ensure that the policy includes libel, slander, discrimination, unlawful and retaliatory eviction, and invasion of privacy suffered by tenants and guests.
    • Liability insurance should be carried on all company vehicles, including manager vehicles if used on the job.
       
  • Institute a clear and transparent channel of communication with tenants and other stakeholders to ensure that timely action and responses are adopted for any nascent concerns that may arise before the problems exacerbate.

Your tenant’s safety is of utmost importance and as a landlord it should be given the highest priority when addressing the necessary features and services being provided to your tenants. The RealCube platform offers unparalleled preventive and corrective maintenance functions that allow you to always stay keep your properties in the best possible condition while offering robust security and access management features. With RealCube your tenants can rest assured that their safety is being well taken care of.

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