Landlord Liability: What You Need to Know

Getting your property ready to rent is one thing, and protecting that property, and yourself, is another. Property management companies do a lot more than taking rent payments. Navigating the world of rental property liability is murky at best, and a complicated area without professional help if an issue arises, or to help ensure you are getting the best quality tenants. There are some instances where a landlord may be held responsible and are good cause for a very thorough tenant screening process.

1. Pets

Allowing pets to live at your property that have injured persons in the past can pose a liability for you, the property owner. This is  particularly true if you are aware of this fact. If you are going to allow pets on the property it is always a good idea to check with the pet owner to make sure that their pets have no history of malicious acts and that they are friendly. You can even check with the local animal control office to check that there have been no incidents reported.  In addition, some breeds of dogs may not be covered under your homeowners insurance so check with your agent before agreeing to let a tenant have a dog.

2. Property Hazards

It is the landlord’s responsibility to rent the property in a safe and maintained condition. Any any known hazards should be fixed before showing the property, or removed as soon as possible before move-in. If a tenant ever reports an issue and makes a hazard known to you it is very important that you do not neglect the problem. Take action to resolve the situation in a timely manner, and ensure it has been safely remedied.  If action is not taken this could certainly become a liability issue, especially if an accident happens and action was not taken on a reported issue.

3. Criminal Activity

If your tenant engages in criminal activities on your property there are circumstances the owner can be held liable for the tenant’s actions. Again this is particularly true if you are aware of the situation but there has been no response on your behalf. Proper screening with the help of a property management company can help ensure the best tenant screening during the application process, greatly lessening the chance of a shadowy tenant moving in in the first place.

4. Equal Treatment and Fair Housing

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 requires that landlords do not discriminate against prospective tenants based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. It is very important that as a landlord that you have a tenant selection criteria and that you follow it to the letter every time tenants are applying. If the criteria is not followed there is potential that a tenant may make claims that you are discriminating even though you are rejecting them for a completely legitimate non-discriminatory reason.

Mainlander can help you navigate all of these potential pitfalls of liability, creating a much smoother, calmer, and expert property management experience with fewer headaches and worries.