When you purchased your first rental property you entered into a whole new world of liability.  In the litigious era we have found ourselves in we have also entered into an era of outrageous insurance. There are some instances where a landlord may be held responsible that are actually quite surprising and are good cause for a very thorough tenant screening process.

1. Hazards

This one is fairly obvious and is common sense. It is the landlords responsibility to rent the property in a safe and maintained condition. If there are any known hazards fix or remove them as soon as possible. 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 and take actions to remedy the situation in a timely manner. If action is not taken this could certainly become a liability issue.

2. Pets

Allowing pets to live at your property that have injured persons in the past can pose a liability for you the property owner particularly 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 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 are not covered under your homeowners insurance so check with your agent before agreeing to let a tenant have a dog.

3. Criminal Activity

If your tenant engages in criminal activities on your property there are circumstances where you the owner may be held liable. Again this is particularly true if you are aware of the situation but have not taken the appropriate actions. A lot of this can be avoided by screening your tenants and not allowing criminals to reside on your property.

4. Equal Treatment

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 exactly every time. 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.

I’m sure there are more issues that can arise in a tenant/landlord relationship and I would love to here your experiences on this.