While no one ever wants to think about an injury happening at one of their properties, it is possible that a tenant may get injured while renting from you. The reality is that injuries happen, and sometimes, the tenant might fault you for their injuries.
When there is the option of a landlord or tenant, who is sued for injury? Can a tenant sue a landlord for injury?
The simple answer is that yes, a tenant can sue a landlord for an injury that occurs on the property. Whether or not that suit will hold up in court, however, will depend on a lot of other issues. As a landlord, it is in your best interest to be sure that you have a complete understanding of liabilities and protect yourself from such issues.
Let’s discuss injuries, liabilities, and what you can do to keep your business, your properties, and your tenants safe.
A Table Of Contents For Rental Liabilities & Injuries
- Can A Tenant Sue A Landlord For Personal Injury?
- What Is A Landlord’s Liability?
- Preventing Potential Injuries
- Can A Tenant Sue A Landlord For Injury To A Pet?
- Protect Your Property, Tenants, And Yourself
The quickest answer to this essential question is yes; a tenant can sue a landlord for injuries. But that doesn’t mean that any injury that occurs near or on the property is going to be the landlord’s fault. There are limits to the liabilities that the landlord can be held to, so tenants that sue landlords for their injuries have to prove certain things.
When it comes to injuries at a rental property or in common areas of a rental building, the case against the landlord will only stand if the injury happened in an area that the landlord was responsible for maintaining.
If, for example, a tenant slips and falls on their child’s toy in the living room, they cannot sue the landlord for this. If, however, a tenant slips and falls because the pathway to their apartment building is covered in dangerous black ice, they may have a case against their landlord.
The liability and responsibility only fall to the landlord when a certain checklist of items can be agreed upon.
What Must Be Proven
To understand what makes an injury the landlord’s responsibility or liability, the following things must all be proven.
Duty To Fix
The area or item that caused the injury must have been within the landlord’s duty to fix or repair in a reasonable amount of time. For example, a broken front step that was reported two weeks prior would be a valid cause of liable injury if an uninformed tenant was hurt on the step.
In addition to the amount of time, the problem must also have not been unreasonably expensive or difficult to be repaired. Additionally, the landlord must have been told about the problem. This means that an unreported broken fan that causes an injury at home cannot be blamed on the landlord because it was not reported.
Next, it must be proven that the injury was the result of the dangerous condition and the landlord was not repairing it. If the injury was caused by something like the tenant being impaired when they came home, for example, the case might be more complicated and less likely to find the landlord at fault.
While all landlords have a duty to prevent injury when possible, they cannot predict or see the future any better than their tenants. All injuries that go to court must be foreseeable injuries, such as a fall caused by broken floorboards. If the injury could not have been expected, the liability may not fall to the landlord.
Negligence Was The Primary Cause
Finally, it must be proven that the landlord’s negligence in fixing the problem directly caused the injury to occur.
If an injured tenant can prove all of the above to the insurance company and court, they may receive any or all of the following compensation:
- Medical bills
- Lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Property damage to personal assets
Landlords with great rental insurance will likely have these costs covered by their insurance. Otherwise, the landlord will be directly responsible for these fees and costs.
It is part of your duty as a landlord to do your part in preventing injuries! By ensuring that your property is always in great condition, you can lower the risk factor for injuries there.
Be sure to do regular maintenance, particularly of all common areas. Keep a written checklist for these areas that you go through regularly, and track when you do these checks. Additionally, do a thorough inspection of all properties between tenants to look for potential problems.
Tenants should be made aware of what areas they are responsible for maintaining in their lease. Additionally, the lease should always include a reporting system for all issues that are part of your responsibility. Tenants must report all problems as soon as possible so that you can fix them in a reasonable amount of time.
Including a clear description of the report procedure as all as the breakdown of responsibilities in the lease agreement may become a key factor for your defense should any type of injury occur, so you want to be sure you take time to add this to your lease.
It is possible for a landlord to be held responsible for the medical bills for a family pet if an injury happens to the pet because of neglect by the landlord, but the specifics about this would depend on local and state laws.
Additionally, the terms of the pet agreement will also have some effect on the outcome. To learn more about how dog-related injuries can affect your business, check out this blog post on dog bites.
Landlord or tenant: Who is sued for injury? Now that you know that landlords like you may be held responsible for tenant injuries, be sure that you do everything that you can to prevent injuries and protect your business from potential court cases.
Comprehensive insurance for landlords can be expensive, but having it ensures that cases of injury will be held against your insurance policy rather than against your business. In particular, it is important that landlords who own complexes and other multi-unit buildings invest in insurance as they are more likely to face these issues than other landlords.