Landlord Liability in Tenant Injuries

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The landlord-tenant relationship is simple enough, but it carries with it immense responsibility for both parties. What happens if a tenant suffers respiratory illness from mold in the home they are renting? Most likely they will sue the property owner.

With a measurable increase in lawsuits, liability is a huge concern for landlords. Therefore, landlords face immense pressure to comply with any housing issues that could attract legal action. We are wondering how a landlord can keep their property safe and protect themselves from petty lawsuits.

At the same time, if a tenant is hurt by negligence of the landlord, we also want to know how they should proceed to receive the damages owed to them. Lawsuits have become a common reality in today’s culture, and we want to know how tenants and landlords can be prepared when an injury occurs on a rental property.

Why We’re Asking:

If you own your home, in most cases, you are responsible for any dangerous features on the property. Unless you have contracted someone to do work and that work was done incorrectly, you have no one to blame but yourself if your well-being is compromised because of your home’s condition. In a rental situation, that’s not necessarily true. To find out how both parties can protect themselves and work together to make sure home conditions are safe, we’re turning to our panel of legal professionals.

It’s time to weigh in.

If a tenant sustains injury on the property, is there insurance available to protect the landlord?

If a tenant is injured on the property owned by the landlord, is the landlord held liable? What if the injury occurs inside the property?

What type of damages is a landlord required to cover?

Is there ever a situation where a personal injury lawyer should handle a case involving an injury on a rental property?

We’re excited to hear back from our legal professionals. Check back later in the week to see what advice they have to give about rental property liability!

Post your answers in the comment field below!

10 COMMENTS

  1. If a tenant sustains injury on the property, is there insurance available to protect the landlord? If they are smart, yes. You’d be very foolish to own a building and not have insurance because you’d be personally liable and if a lawyer sues, they generally won’t go for more than the policy limits.

    If a tenant is injured on the property owned by the landlord, is the landlord held liable? What if the injury occurs inside the property? It all comes down to whether or not the landlord is negligent. Getting hurt on the property isn’t enough. You need to show that the landlord was negligent in some way, e.g. a broken step, covered hole, loose floorboard, etc.

    What type of damages is a landlord required to cover? Reasonable and related medical care and wage loss from their negligence. But again, if they have insurance all they do is turn it over to them.

    Is there ever a situation where a personal injury lawyer should handle a case involving an injury on a rental property? Any time there is an injury from negligence. Premises liability cases get fought hard by insurance companies so if you don’t have representation you are likely to get a raw deal.

  2. With cases involving premises liability (dangerous or defective conditions on real property), a plaintiff has to show that the landlord had either actual or constructive notice of the defective condition that caused the tenant bodily injury. Actual notice is when the landlord knew about the dangerous condition on the property–for example, a big hole in the middle of the living room. Constructive notice is when the landlord should have known of the defective condition–for example, a building code violation.

    Housing codes are usually implemented for landlords to keep the premises livable(e.g. running water, heat, etc.) A violation of the code would be a breach in the warranty of habitability, meaning that it would be unfit for people to live in the apartment. Thus, if a tenant is injured due to a code violation, constructive notice could be attributed to the landlord.

    A landlord will not be held liable if the tenant caused or created the dangerous condition and failed to give notice to the landlord and failed to allow the landlord to repair the defect.

    For tenants, I would advise them to put in writing all requests for a landlord to repair a defective condition.

    For landlords, it is important that they repair all known dangerous conditions as quickly as possible and make annual inspections to make sure that the apartment is up to code. A landlord should not wait for a housing inspector to find a violation. Landlords should also purchase insurance to protect themselves from potential lawsuits from tenants and their guests.

  3. Landlords certainly CAN be held liable for injury caused to tenants. I am the owner of an insurance brokerage, a licensed insurance agent and a risk consultant. One of our specialties is placing insurance for condos and homeowner’s associations. Along with that, we help owners of rental units and property managers mitigate the risk they face by managing or owning properties.

    There are certain duties owed by landlords which range in scope from
    providing heat and water to disclosing lead paint or certifying the
    habitability of a unit prior to rental. These responsibilities vary state
    by state, and in the event of a lawsuit, the facts of the injury will of
    course play in to the liability. However, these owed duties create an
    opportunity for liability to be assessed if they are not fulfilled.

    It is worth noting that the owner of a building may employ a property
    manager. The property manager may cause an injury and the owner might be
    held liable for the injury. This would be due to the owner negligently
    choosing an incompetent property manager.

    There are other cases where the tenant may be partially at fault, but
    depending on the jurisdiction the lawsuit is brought in, the landlord may
    be fully responsible, partially responsible, or responsible for only that
    portion the tenant was *not* responsible for.

    I want to highlight one specific case that shows how a tenant can act
    poorly (overloading a roof deck) but the landlord was held jointly
    responsible (failure to provide a secure roof deck). The details can be
    found on our website: http://associationprotection.com/collapse/

  4. I am a Realtor and by law we cannot provide legal advice. Yet here’s a tip:

    Tenants have an option to purchase “rental insurance” with many of the same companies that offer home owners insurance. The policies cover specifics of the rental unit you are occupying. Basic policies tend to cover:

    Personal property
    Loss of use
    Liability (A slip & fall in your apartment)
    Replacement cost in case of theft, fire or loss

    For additional amounts, individuals can cover:

    Animal liability
    Money
    Gold/Silver
    Earthquake
    Flood

    Therefore this means, there is a “limit of liability” a landlord/owner has. Otherwise there would be no need for renters to obtain these policies. Let’s look closer at the landlord side. Here in CA they are required to have homeowners insurance yet legally once they incur tenants they are to increase their coverage to a more comprehensive plan. One that includes their rental property unit. Yet, the same as with the tenant, the landlord has the option to purchase “additional coverage” that exceeds the average rental property. Many may consider:

    Loss of income
    Legal
    Water
    Medical
    Building ordinance

    Basic’s usually include: Fire, hail, windstorms, robberies, structures not attached to property, personal property, etc.

    If a tenant sustains injury on the property, is there insurance available to protect the landlord?

    There is but there is no guarantee to the dollar amount the landlord has will cover or exceed the amount of damages a tenant or tenants may sustain

    If a tenant is injured on the property owned by the landlord, is the landlord held liable? What if the injury occurs inside the property?

    Was the injury due to the landlord’s or the tenant’s negligence? If the landlord’s, the answer is yes, a landlord can be held liable.

  5. There are certain responsibilities for for both parties that should be spelled out in the lease. This includes the need for a tenant to alert the landlord of any problems that could result in injury. I was a landlord in Manhattan, among other places, and the landlord tenant laws vary from location to location but in any case, a landlord should have a rental unit insurance policy. They are fairly inexpensive and cover a wide range of things including loss of rental income should the property be damaged in a fire or storm.

  6. Yes! As a Plaintiff’s mold lawyer who has been in practice in Miami for 26 years the answer is simple: maintain your property in a reasonably safe condition or you will be responsible for the damage you cause.
    Mold is a naturally occurring condition which can be prevented or removed using ordinary care and common sense maintenance. If a premises is air conditioned and most moisture is removed from the air,mold won’t grow. Mold needs moisture and a food source- deprive it of either and it can’t live.Property that has been kept at ordinary temperature with de-humidification will be mold free.If mold is discovered, professional mold remediation should be employed.
    Not all mold is toxic- an inexpensive mold test can let the property owner tell what’s growing. The tenant should notify the landlord upon discovery and the landlord should follow a protocol.
    Mold injury is case specific and usually affects people with respiratory or immune system compromise.Mold can be poison- a landlord must take reasonable steps to prevent exposure to the renter.

  7. 1. If a tenant sustains injury on the property, is there insurance available to protect the landlord?

    Generally the answer is yes. Homeowners insurance will cover the landlord for any negligence on the part of the landlord in maintaining the premises in a safe and hazard free condition. This type of coverage is also called “General Liability”. A Landlord would be smart to get an additional policy called an “Umbrella”. This provides the landlord with excess coverage that goes beyond the limits provided in the General Liability policy for added protection against a more serious claim.

    2. What is the landlord liable for?

    Part A. The landlord is only held liable if the landlord was negligent and failed in his or her duty to maintain the premises in a safe and hazard free condition. The landlord must have sufficient notice of a defect or dangerous condition and take steps in a reasonable amount of time to correct the condition. If he or she has notice of the condition (is aware or becomes aware of it) and fails to correct the condition in a reasonable period of time then the landlord likely would be negligent if a tenant was injured as a result. This would apply to the buildings and grounds of the property being rented.

    3. What types of damages is a landlord required to cover?

    The landlord is not “required” to cover and damages. However, general liability insurance will compensate the injured tenant for the injuries, permanent and partial disability, medical bills, lost wages and scarring.

    4. Is there ever a situation where a personal injury lawyer should handle a case involving an injury on a rental property?

    In my opinion it is always prudent, although not required, to consult a personal injury lawyer if you have been hurt on a rental property and have a premises liability claim. A qualified personal injury attorney can prevent the injured party from making key mistakes when opening and proceeding with the claim. Failure to see the right physicians in a timely fashion, failure to present the claim in a timely fashion and failure to hire expert witnesses may doom a injured party’s claim from the start. Only a seasoned personal injury lawyer who has handled claims in the past and has litigation experience can help avoid these problems. Lastly, if the insurance carrier refuses to pay, you will need an attorney to file a law suit on your behalf to obtain damages on your behalf.

  8. 1) A landlord should be sure that he or she has insurance that will cover any accidental injuries that occur on the property, whether inside the home or on a portion of the property itself. Otherwise, the landlord may be held directly responsible in a personal injury lawsuit.

    2) The landlord can be held liable whether the injury occurs inside the home or outside on the property. In order to be held liable, however, any claimant must prove that the landlord was negligent or careless in some fashion and that the negligence or carelessness caused the accident and the claimant’s injuries.

    3) If proven negligent, the landlord and his or her insurer may be required to pay for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering as well as any future impairment or medical treatment caused by the injuries.

    4) There are many instances where it would be prudent for a personal injury lawyer to bring a claim for a renter who is injured in his home or on land owned by the landlord, provided that a claim for negligence exists. Anyone injured in such an accident would be very wise to hire a lawyer to handle the claim rather than trying to settle the claim directly with the insurance company.

  9. If a tenant sustains injury on the property, is there insurance
    available to protect the landlord?

    Of course; it is called liability insurance, provided by all the major
    providers.

    If a tenant is injured on the property owned by the landlord, is
    the landlord held liable? What if the injury occurs inside the
    property?

    The landlord may be liable. It depends on the circumstances of the
    accident: whether the Landlord was on notice of the dangerous condition;
    whether the accident was foreseeable; whether the Landlord who was on
    notice of the dangerous condition reasonable tried to fix the dangerous
    condition; and other variables.

    What type of damages is a landlord required to cover?

    Generally a Landlord is responsible to repair structural damage, but each
    lease may have other requirements.

    Is there ever a situation where a personal injury lawyer should
    handle a case involving an injury on a rental property?

    It should only be handled by a Personal Injury attorney; it is not a
    Landlord-Tenant issue.

  10. Landlords usually maintain liability insurance on their properties, and if they have a mortgage the bank generally requires the landlord to maintain liability insurance. Liability insurance will protect the landlord from damages due to injuries sustained by a tenant or anyone else on the property due to the landlord’s negligence. The insurance company will provide legal representation for the landlord and then pay any damages accessed up to the limits of the landlord’s policy.

    Even though a landlord has liability insurance it is wise for the landlord to due regular inspections of the property to determine if there are any hazards which may cause injury to a tenant or guest. Regular inspections would uncover conditions like mold which could then be remedied before it causes injury.

    Injuries sustained on the property and within the tenant’s apartment would be covered by the landlord’s liability insurance. However, if the injury occurred within the tenant’s apartment the landlord’s insurance company may seek to reduce the landlord’s liability if the injury was caused, at least in part, by the negligence of the tenant.

    The landlord could be liable for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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