Lanlord Liability

Lanlord Liability

Do you have rental properties in SIlicon Valley?  Well, you might have ignored these liabilities in your rental lease agreements with your tenants, but perhaps you will reconsider them next time.  Below is the Top 5 liabilities that landlords face when renting homes:

1) Dogs:  Landlords are not typically liable if a tenant’s dog bites someone unless they were aware of the dog’s previous conduct.   Still, with ever increasing home values, you could insist on renter’s insurance with liability coverage  to protect yourself.

 2) Criminal Activity: Landlords are responsible to disclose any past criminal activity on their rental property to their tenants.  Some tenants have sued landlords for failing to protect them from crime, especially when the landlords were aware that a similar criminal activity.   So, depending on the level of crime you might have to hire a security company to patrol your properties as well.

3) Windows and Screens:   If the windows and screens don’t provide adequate safety and security barriers, then you are responsible to replace them.   If your tenants have small toddlers you have to take measures to install child-safe screens and baby gates.  If you don’t install these, you could be held liable in court cases.

4) Secondhand Smoke: As landlords you could be held liable for exposing your tenants to 2nd hand smoke from nearby commercial concerns such as bars or resturants who still permit smoking.   Also, if the unit had been rented to a smoker tenant you need to disclose that to the applicants and inform them of the risks associated with 2nd hand smoke.

In fact, some tenants with breathing disorders could use the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act to sue landlords for not making reasonable accommodations for them.   Needless to say you should include smoke-free clauses in your rental lease agreements.

5. Pest Control:  Landlords may be automatically liable for exterminating bedbugs and other pets that could be harmful to the tennats health.  Landlord failing to deal promptly with a bed bug infestation have been  sued for breach of the warranty of habitability.

Keep in mind that this information is not legal advice and you should consult with your legal adviser in case you are facing challenges in any of these areas.

But if you have rental properties in San Jose, Campbell, Saratoga, Los Gatos we can help you avoid these problems.