Landlord liability can take on different forms. If you are a landlord of a commercial or residential rental property, you can be liable for physical injuries toward tenants or other third-party individuals. Additionally, third-party property damage may also be considered your legal responsibility under certain circumstances.
This guide tells you everything there is to know about landlord liability. With the right steps, you will be able to prevent incidents of landlord liabilities and consequent financial loss.
Let’s get started!
What Are The Responsibilities of Landlords?
A liability, as per the scope of this article, is the state of being legally responsible for something (i.e. a loss or an incident.) So in order to provide more context regarding landlord liabilities, let’s talk about landlord responsibilities according to the law.
Based on your region, there are likely to be legal statutes as well as boards/committees who enforce said legal statutes regarding both residential and commercial tenancies.
Residential Landlord Responsibilities
In Ontario, the Residential Tenancies Act of 2006 details matters like the following:
- Tenancy agreements;
- Responsibilities of landlords and tenants;
- Notice of termination; and
- Eviction orders.
The Residential Tenancies Act of 2006 in Ontario is mainly enforced by the Landlord & Tenant Board (LTB). Note that there are respective boards for different regions in Canada.
In a conceptual nutshell, we can deduce the following residential landlord responsibilities that are common to most areas:
- Responsibility to repair;
- Responsibility to respect the tenant’s rights and privacy; and
- Responsibility to adhere to legal statutes regarding termination, abandoned tenant belongings, tenant death, etc.
Commercial Landlord Responsibilities
Commercial landlord responsibilities are usually found in a separate act or legal statute. For Ontario, this legal statute is the Commercial Tenancies Act of 1990, which goes into the details on the following:
- Notice of termination;
- Changing locks for non-payment; and
- Guidelines for sale of distress.
Landlords of commercial properties, unlike those of residential properties, are not typically responsible for repairs and maintenance. However, this still depends on the signed lease agreement, which may take precedence over the Commercial Tenancies Act.
When Do Landlord Lawsuits Arise?
Any negligence towards a responsibility can lead to complaints and disputes. But at what point could a lawsuit arise? Here are some situations that could lead to escalations:
- When landlords commit wrongful acts that are against legal statutes or the lease agreement;
- When their negligence causes dire consequences such as injury or death within premises; and
- Destruction/loss of tenant property.
This leads us to our next section, which talks more about what landlord liabilities could look like.
Landlord Liability Mistakes That You Need to Know About
1. Landlord Liability Involving Injured Maintenance People
For a landlord to be liable for the injury of service/maintenance people, the landlord must first be responsible for repairs/maintenance/installations, whether according to the pertinent legal statute or according to the lease agreement.
Once that first box is ticked, the landlord is open to liability for the injury of the maintenance/service person in the following cases:
- They hired someone without making sure they are trained for the job, thereby endangering the person.
- They lent faulty tools to the maintenance/service person, which caused the accident.
- They failed to inform the service person about specific hazards in the area of repair/installation.
- They oversaw the repair/installation and made demands that placed the maintenance/service person in danger.
- They directly took over some of the tasks or interfered with the service person’s work in such a way that led to an accident.
2. Landlord Liability Mistakes Related to Tenant/Guest Injury
The more the landlord is involved with the maintenance or upkeep of the rental property (as stated in the related legal statute or the lease agreement), the more that they are prone to liabilities for injuries within premises.
Assuming the landlord has such responsibilities (which is more common but not restricted to residential landlords), landlord liability could arise from situations such as the following:
- A poorly maintained garden walkway causes an elderly guest to trip, fall, and sustain an injury.
- A poorly repaired ceiling collapses, causing injury to the tenant below.
- A badly lit outdoor staircase of a commercial rental property causes a customer to trip and sustain an injury.
3. Landlord Liability Mistakes Involving Tenant Property
Like the previous types of potential landlord liabilities, this depends on what the landlord is responsible for—whether in a residential or commercial rental property. Is the landlord responsible for the locks of the property or general maintenance? If so, then landlord liability could arise from the following situations:
- The landlord hires an uncertified electrician. Tenant property is destroyed because of a consequent electrical fire.
- The landlord hires an uncertified plumber. The faulty repair results in a burst pipe joint, causing flooding and damage to tenant property.
- The landlord did not do the needed maintenance on outdated Kitec plumbing, resulting in flooding and damage to tenant property.
- Tenant property is destroyed after a part of the ceiling collapses because of a known but unaddressed termite infestation.
- Tenant property is burglarized because of neglected broken locks.
4. Landlord Liability Concerning Wrongful Sale of Distress
This type of liability is specific for landlords of commercial rental properties in Ontario and talks about a recent addition to the Commercial Tenancy Act.
If a landlord contravenes or fails to comply with the pertinent sections in the Commercial Tenancy Act regarding the situations mentioned below, then they will be held liable for the damages sustained by the aggrieved party.
- Re-entry during an applicable non-enforcement period (section 82); or
- Seizing of goods as distress for arrears of rent during an applicable non-enforcement period (section 84).
How Landlord Insurance Protects You From Landlord Liability
Whether you are a landlord of a commercial or residential space, landlord insurance will serve you well. This type of insurance helps pay for expenses in instances when you, as a landlord, are found legally responsible for third-party injury or property damage.
With landlord insurance in place, liabilities can be filed as claims so that you are protected from sudden financial loss. Aside from liability protection, customized landlord insurance also provides coverage for:
- The actual rental structure/space;
- The possessions you have for the maintenance or upkeep of your rental property; and
- Instances of lost income due to business interruption.
To learn more, check out our article on the cost and coverage provided by landlord insurance.
Protect Your Business Fully with Personalized Landlord Insurance
Here at KASE Insurance, we put together personalized landlord insurance that gives you the liability coverage you need. Protect your business with exemplary customized insurance without costly, unnecessary riders.
We also offer dedicated assistance through every stage, from negotiating premiums to following up on claims. With our award-winning services, landlord insurance becomes completely hassle-free.
Propel your business toward a secure and successful future. Get in touch with us today!