Being a landlord can be a rewarding experience. It is a safe and stable way of becoming an entrepreneur and gives you the flexibility of having your own schedule. And nothing is better than collecting that rent. The unfortunate flip-side to the freedom is the liability that comes with ensuring that the property is properly maintained. Failure to do so could subject a landlord to liability when a tenant is injured as a result.
Generally, landlords have a duty to maintain common areas of the rental property. This can include stairs, hallways, business centers, gyms, and any other common areas. When it comes to the actual rented area, the landlord has a duty to make it fit or habitable for living before a tenant moves in. This means complying with federal, state, and local laws. It is best to check the laws of your state to ensure compliance. When a tenant has a repair request, it is important to address them promptly to avoid the problem escalating into something that can cause an injury. It is best to periodically inspect rental property to provide regular upkeep. If there is a dangerous condition on the property, provide warning for tenants and their visitors until the situation can be addressed.
Environmental problems can also subject a landlord to personal injury claims from tenants. Ensure that you are providing the proper notice and complying with any cleaning or disposal requirements. Asbestos, lead, and mold are common environmental hazards that must be addressed or disclosed by any landlord. Require tenants to report any leaks and damage to the property and get the property tested for hazardous gases like carbon monoxide.
Emergencies can cause panic and may subject a landlord to liability if someone is injured. Have an emergency plan and clearly post it with all exits and fire extinguishers. Ensure your building is up to code for fire safety and that the sprinklers are properly working.
Another way to reduce tenant injuries is to discourage crime. Take any report of crime seriously. Provide strong lighting in the common areas and around the property to reduce the attractiveness of break-ins. Provide bars on the windows or add double-bolted locks to help tenants feel safe. Educate tenants about how to be safe in the area and encourage them to meet one another so that they can know when strangers are on the property.
If a landlord finds themselves being sued by a tenant, the landlord should hire an attorney immediately. Typically, landlords are insured to cover these instances and they may be assigned an attorney through the insurance company. It is important in these situations to follow the law and not to retaliate against the tenant in any way nor take any self-help measures.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Your case may be different. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance. If you are a tenant injured on property you rent, please call one of our attorneys at David K. Kremin & Associates, and we will give you a free consultation. We never charge unless we collect for you. Please call 1(800) ASK-A-LAWYER or 1(800)275-2529.