Are landlords liable for injuries on rental property?

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Renting a home is a risky move for both the landlord and tenant. A tenant’s life can be directly impacted by their relationship with their landlord. This relationship can affect their finances, comfort, event their safety. While a landlord does have the responsibility to maintain a reasonably safe environment for their tenants, a tenant cannot blame the landlord for all accidents on the property.

Our network members gave us great advice on how to proceed as a landlord or tenant if an accident occurs on rental property. Below is a guide for landlords and tenants alike, for how to proceed after an accident occurs on rental property.

Insurance

There is great insurance available to protect landlords. This insurance can help decrease their risk and likelihood of being held liable when something goes awry on the rental property. According to attorney Kevin Landry,

“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.”

But a tenant still has the right to claim negligence on the landlord’s end and take the case to court.

Tenant Rights

A tenant has the right to a maintained property with reasonably safe living conditions. They can only blame the landlord for injuries on the property when there is negligence on the landlord’s end. According to attorney Michael Helfand,

“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.”

Additionally, when a tenant takes a landlord to court on grounds of property negligence, it is best that they have a personal injury lawyer to represent them. If the landlord has property insurance, the insurance company will fight the property negligence claim hard.

Practical Advice for a Healthy Landlord/Tenant Relationship

When renting a place to reside, it is almost certain that repairs will need to be made at some point to the property. But tenants who do not alert the landlord of these conditions have no case if injury arises. At the same time, if a landlord is aware of a dangerous condition on the property, it needs to be handled in a reasonably short amount of time. Attorney Jason Kessler says it best,

“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.”

Altogether, tenants must prove negligence against a landlord and write down all maintenance requests. Landlords must maintain the property they are renting. With good communication between a landlord and tenant, property negligence cases should not occur.