Landlord Blog

Education and news for smart DIY landlords!

What You Should Know About Premise Liability

Premises liability is a legal concept where an injury occurred on someone’s property because of an unsafe or defective condition. This unique duty for landlords and should be considered when owning rented property to avoid a business misfortune. Premise liability lawsuits cost a lot in reward and there has never been a recorded compensation for merely a hundred dollars. Recorded compensations range from a thousand dollars to millions. So, if you want to avoid an expensive lawsuit, avoid a premise liability right from the start.

How to avoid a premise liability claim 

Conduct a regular property inspection. Make sure that every part of your property is synonymous with the word “safe.” From the roof to the ground, you have to check every single detail and imagine every scenario where an accident is likely to occur. It’s a simple way to avoid an accident. Maintain devices that require maintenance such as smoke alarms and thief alarms. Look for damaged handrails on stairs and fix them immediately. Loose attics and exposed electrical objects also deserve attention.

Be careful with the use of hazardous chemicals. You might use some or provide your tenants with it. Consider if they are prone to contact or airborne allergies, or if they have mental issues. 

Install safety devices. Put smoke alarms in places where there is a high probability of fire. Fire extinguishers should be placed in areas where they are visible and easily accessible in case of a fire. The same goes with carbon monoxide detectors, fire axes, fire hoses, and fire hydrants.

Ensure proper lighting. Accidents happen in the dark a lot. So, put lighting in areas that are most likely to be passed by like corridors and stairs. Also, put lighting in areas outdoors where your tenants are likely to loiter.

Pay attention to tenant complains. Your tenants can see things you cannot on a daily basis. So when they report something to you, see to it, fix it, and document it. It is one way of telling you they are helping you to not face a premise liability insurance claim.

Read: How To Handle Noise Complaints In Your Rental

Let your tenants know about the safety practices. Show them a lease agreement with house rules and regulations. Prevention is better than a cure so ensure that every element of your property is safe.

Screen your tenants. Conduct background checks on tenants and check whether they are susceptible to harmful behavior. Others might have children, so consider their safety as well. Check criminal records to avoid theft in the property.

Make your property thief-proof. Build high walls, trim the bushes, install heavy-duty doors, and don't just let anyone in. Screen every person who desires to enter your property. Keep thieves out.

How to reduce premise liability claims

Compare fault. When faced to a lawsuit regarding premise liability, pay attention to every detail of the case. Let the jury assess properly your case by giving a detailed document. If you as a landlord are at fault but only by just 55%, then your owed damage can be reduced. If you're not at fault and your detailed document shows just that, then you can win the case and not pay a single cent.

Document illegal modifications and misuse of property. If your tenant tampers with your property by illegally modifying them, then you cannot be held liable for any injuries incurred. 

Post signage of warnings. In places where there is a high probability of accidents or under maintenance, posting warning signs will help you win the case or help him/her reduce damaged owed. The jury and defense will require documentation during the lawsuit so take pictures of those as well.

To protect your business you also have to protect your clients. Making your property conducive for a safe living is the best advice a landlord should take to avoid premise liability. Proper documentation and proper orientation also add to successful property management.

If you’re ready, make Landlord Prep your go-to resource for landlording education. Here, we offer a complete DIY landlording course to get you on the right track. Join our academy today. If you want, you can check out Flavia’s real estate investing webinar first!