From the moment you legally own a property and lease it to others, you take legal responsibility for every single aspect of the property, from the maintenance and security of the building to the safety of the tenants. Of course, where your responsibility begins and ends considering tenant safety and other issues is a little more complicated. For instance, if a tenant is mugged in your parking lot and the lighting was too dim, you may be held partly responsible. However, if the mugging occurred and there was plenty of light and security, then the incident is out of your control.
The following are some of the legal responsibilities of landlords.
A landlord is responsible to ensure the environmental safety of the property. All materials that compose the building and the environment around it are the responsibility of the landlord. This means if someone becomes sick from lead paint or asbestos that are part of the building’s structure or maintenance, or from exposure to mold, the landlord is responsible.
As a landlord, you can prevent some of the environmental hazards in your building if you take actions such as:
- Encouraging tenants to report any problem, such as faulty plumbing or mold
- Making sure a maintenance team fixes every issue you know of, and looks for more you don’t
- Informing tenants ahead of time about hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos
Landlords are liable for injuries suffered by their tenants if those injuries result from a lack of maintenance or other preventable irregularities in the building. Most owner-liable injuries occur in the common areas that the owner has direct control of, not the individual units. The only exception to this occurs if the injury occurred due to a poor repair job.
As a landlord, you can take the initiative in preventing injuries by:
- Encouraging tenants to report anything wrong with the building
- Inspecting the premises and keeping your progress on a list
- Ensuring that repair requests and urgent repairs finish as soon as possible
- Buying property insurance for building damages and other possible tenant issues
While liability is not as clear as environmental and tenant safety, property owners hold some degree of responsibility over any criminal activity or damage that occurs on the property. Landlords are responsible for keeping the tenants safe from criminal assault, theft, and even other tenants.
You can prevent any criminal-related incidents you might be held liable for by taking the following security measures:
- Meet or exceed local and state laws that apply to rental properties
- Use the latest developments for safety in your building, like deadbolt and window locks, as well as doors
- Assess the crime situation in your area and design a security system that protects your tenants
- Inform your tenants about the crime demographics in your neighborhood
Home365 can help you be a responsible landlord by streamlining the property management process and allowing you access to a network of trusted maintenance workers in a quick, efficient system. Contact us today for a free demo.