Top Ten Landlord Liabilities

By 3rd December 2014Blog

Being a landlord is a complicated endeavor. Landlords have numerous liabilities to take care of when renting out their property to the tenants. Not only do you need to worry about various property maintenance issues and tenant problems but also you need to meet extensive legal requirements that may trip you up if you overlook them.

Here are some prominent liabilities that all landlords must be aware of and take care of when renting out their properties.

Injury within the premises
A landlord is held responsible for an injury to the tenants within the rented premises, if it can be proved that the landlord was negligent in maintaining the property appropriately and the negligence was the proximate cause of the injury.

Risky conditions existing in the property
If there prevails any dangerous condition within the rented property and landlord fails to repair it or give adequate warning of the prevailing risky condition, then the tenants may sue the landlord.

Inspection of the premises
To avoid getting trapped in a lawsuit, a landlord should inspect the property and make all necessary repairs in the premises from time to time, and not just at the beginning and at the end of the leasehold. It’s wise to maintain a list of all complaints and repairs done. Encourage your tenants to report security issues and dangerous conditions to help you increase safety of the property.

Various other perils
Usually, most policies cover losses and damages from rain, fire, wind, hail storms, burglary, and acts of vandalism. However, other perils, such as losses due to natural disasters, often aren’t covered. Losses due to floods and earthquakes are the two most common perils that aren’t covered in the policies. So landlord should ensure that their policies cover losses due to these natural disasters and the actual value of their property.

Liability claims
Liability claims are generally covered by a comprehensive liability policy that includes payments of damage awards, attorney fees and expenses incurred in defending against lawsuits, and other expenses. They are conditioned on policy limits and deductible amount.

Added liability concerns
A landlord needs to know that lawsuits based on liability claims may arise from sources other than personal injuries. Claims based on privacy invasion and more traditional complaints have grown in recent times. These include charges such as slander or oral defamation, libel via printed or broadcast statements, and similarly many more. Lawsuits also arise based on claims for acts of discrimination that are based on race or religious beliefs and unlawful evictions. Landlord should be aware of all these added liabilities when renting out their property.

Vehicle liability
All vehicles used in a landlord’s business, including those of employees, should be covered by liability insurance. Although a liability claim involving a traffic accident may not be concerned with landlord’s tenant, such an occurrence exposes the landlord’s business to liability claims which can result in substantial damage awards.

Critters, such as dogs and cats, may also expose a landlord to liability. This is why landlords prohibit their tenants from keeping pets. Though a landlord won’t get into trouble just for renting out property to a dog owner, but if the plaintiff proves that landlord exercised some control over the dog or landlord was aware of the fact that tamed animal was potentially dangerous then that landlord may find himself in trouble.

Security issues
A landlord needs to know that he is responsible for the tenant’s security under certain circumstances. Failure to ensure adequate security of the tenants can expose landlord to liability. So landlords should ensure that the common areas, such as elevators, hallways, stairways, and others, are maintained in good condition and are substantially safe from anti-social elements and criminals. This requires hiring security personnel and installation of surveillance equipment.

Bad conduct of tenants
A landlord also bears responsibility and potential liability for the conduct of his tenants. If a landlord learns about unlawful, obnoxious, and other offending habits of tenants that amount to an ongoing nuisance, then he is supposed to take the necessary steps to safeguard other tenants and individuals who are affected by unreasonable conduct of the tenant. This also includes evicting the offender, if it’s necessary.

All landlords need to understand these liabilities and take the right measures to ensure the safety of their property and tenants to stay away from legal hassles and other complications related to their property management business and liabilities.