Being a landlord can be financially rewarding; however, to be successful, landlords need to understand potential liability issues, take actions to prevent them, and ensure they have the right Landlord Insurance. Liability issues can come in many forms.
7 Common Landlord Liability Issues
- Criminal Activity
If a landlord's negligence, such as failing to provide proper locks on doors and windows, allows criminal activity to occur, they may be held liable. If the landlord is aware of recent illegal activity on or near the property and doesn't warn their tenants, they could be held responsible for any subsequent criminal activity.
If a landlord fails to maintain common areas properly and someone incurs an injury, the landlord may be held liable. For example, a landlord fails to remove snow and ice from the property's walkway, and someone slips, falls, and breaks their leg.
In Pennsylvania, landlords can be liable for negligent maintenance, such as mold exposure, vermin, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Dogs and Other Pets
Allowing pets can increase income and create a bigger potential tenant pool but also raises a landlord's liability. For example, if the landlord knows that a tenant's dog is dangerous, they can be held liable for injuries caused by that dog.
- Invasion of Privacy
A landlord's need to enter a unit and a tenant's need for privacy are sometimes in conflict, creating invasion of privacy issues. If a tenant feels a landlord invaded their privacy, they may sue them.
- Libel or Slander,
"Libel involves the act of publishing a statement about an individual, either in written form or by broadcast over media platforms such as radio, television, or the Internet, that is untrue and threatens to harm the reputation and/or livelihood of the targeted person," Investopedia. In contrast, slander refers to "unwritten or unpublished defamatory speech." If a tenant feels their landlord committed libel or slander against them, they may try to hold them accountable.
- Housing Discrimination
The Fair Housing Act is "the federal law that makes it illegal to discriminate in any housing-related transaction based on seven protected classes," which include race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status. If a landlord violates that law, they could be taken to court.
7 Tips to Mitigate Landlord Liability Issues
- Be Aware
Be aware of what is happening within your property and the neighborhood so you can take appropriate action if needed.
- Take Safety Precautions
Safety precautions may include a security system, better locks, or outdoor lighting.
- Create a Comprehensive Lease
Every potential liability issue should be addressed in the lease, who is and isn't responsible for different scenarios should be spelled out, and the lease should be reviewed and signed by the landlord and tenant.
- Screen Potential Tenants
"When you screen a prospective tenant, you are doing your due diligence to ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk for liability. By screening tenants, you can reduce the chances of being sued by someone who was injured on your property or had their personal information stolen," experts "This also helps to protect your current tenants from harm."
- Regularly Inspect the Property
As you walk around your property, look for any issues, such as burnt-out light bulbs, broken locks, and crumbling walkways, and make repairs before they become a liability issue.
- Properly Maintain Property
Investing in regular property maintenance provides many benefits, such as getting higher rent, preventing more costly repairs, and minimizing the risk of litigation.
- Get the Right Landlord Insurance
Landlord Insurance is a type of homeowner's insurance that covers damage to your rental property and helps protect you against any lawsuits related to the property. Requiring your tenants to have renters' insurance can lower your liability risk.
Protect Yourself Against Liability and Other Risks With the Right Landlord Insurance
American Insuring Group offers comprehensive landlord insurance to cover a range of risks, from property damage to liability claims. Our affordable policies protect your investment and give you peace of mind. We get you the best price on landlord insurance by comparing competing insurance companies for you!
Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.