FAQs – Landlord Liability / Insurance Regarding Tenant Injuries

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on October 26, 2006 under Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

It is important for a landlord to protect himself / herself from tenant injuries liability.

Ques. When is a landlord liable for injury to a tenant or a visitor to the rental property?
Ans. For a landlord or a property manager to be held responsible for an injury on the premises, both should have been negligent in maintaining the property, and the resultant injuries should be the direct outcome of that negligence. An injured tenant or visitor to the rental property will have to prove the following if the landlord is to be held liable:

1. The landlord was responsible for maintaining the portion of premises that caused the accident.
2. No reasonable steps were taken by the landlord to avert the accident.
3. There was no unreasonable expense or difficulty involved in fixing the problem, or at the very minimum giving adequate warnings.
4. The accident was foreseeable, and a serious injury was the probable consequence of not fixing the problem.
5. Sheer negligence on the part of the landlord is the raison d’etre behind the accident.
6. The injury is genuine.

For example, a fall on the broken from step leads to the tenant breaking his ankle, the landlord will be held liable, if the tenant can prove the following:

1. The landlord was responsible for maintaining the steps, which is usually the case, as steps are part of the common area.
2. Failure on the part of the landlord to take reasonable measures to maintain the steps (for days or weeks.
3. Repairing the steps would not have been a tough or expensive proposition, as fixing broken steps is a relatively minor job.
4. Tripping and falling on broken steps is highly likely, and the probable result of a broken step is a serious injury, completely foreseeable.
5. The tenant must be able to prove that he / she tripped and fell on the rental properties broken steps, thereby breaking his / her ankle.
6. The injury is genuine and the tenant is seriously hurt.

If, a tenant can prove all that, then most likely he / she will file a personal injury lawsuit for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and other physical suffering, permanent physical disability and disfigurement, and emotional distress. Therefore, a landlord in order to avoid any problems should keep the property in excellent condition by:

1. Using a written checklist to inspect the premises and fixing any problems before new tenants move in.
2. Tenants should be encouraged to immediately report safety or security problems such as plumbing, heating, broken doors or steps, whether in the rental unit or in common areas, such as, hallways and parking garages.
3. A written log regarding tenant complaints and repair requests, with details as to how and when problems were fixed should be kept.
4.Repairs should be handles on a priority basis, with all safety issues taken care of within 24 hours. Tenant should be kept informed as to when and how the repairs will be carried out.
5.Tenants should be given twice yearly checklists on which to report any potential safety hazards or maintenance problems, which may have been overlooked. The checklist should be used to personally inspect all rental units once a year.

In addition, all responsibilities for repair and maintenance should be clearly set out in the lease or rental agreement.

Ques. How will insurance protect a rental property business?

Ans. A well-designed property insurance policy will cover property losses caused by fire, storms, burglary, and vandalism. Typically, earthquake and flood insurance are separate.

It is best for a landlord to take out a comprehensive general liability (‘CGL’) policy, which will provide liability insurance, covering injuries or losses suffered by others, as the result of defective conditions on the property. Equally important, liability insurance covers the legal cost of defending personal injury lawsuits.

The following tips should help in selecting the right kind of insurance:

* Enough coverage should be purchased to protect the value of the property and assets.

* The policy should also cover physical injury, libel, slander, discrimination, unlawful and retaliatory eviction, and invasion of privacy.

However, landlords can and should avoid unnecessary litigation by screening prospective tenants and employees, as well as, conducting background checks, simply by visiting www.e-renter.com for tenant screening and background check services.

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