Who is liable for visitor injury at a rental property

Find out who is liable for an injury to a visitor at a rental property. Learn the circumstance that determine landlord liability.

Premises liability can become confusing when a California property is owned by one person and rented by another. If a visitor gets injured while on the property, it usually takes consideration of the circumstances and possibly a look into the actions of the renter, owner and visitor to determine who is liable for the damages. Because rental properties are so common, it is important for both landlords and renters to understand liability.

General landlord liability

Many people may assume that just because a landlord owns the property, he or she is responsible for any injuries on the property. However, this is not always true. Landlords do take on some liability. According to Fidelis Screening Solutions, they are expected to keep a property in good condition, which means addressing any issues reported by tenants and removing obvious dangers. In short, landlords have the responsibility of ensuring tenants have safe living conditions and often take on premises liability.

However, in some cases, the liability is on the tenant or the injured person. It all really depends on the circumstances and the exact situation.

Example scenarios

According to AllBusiness.com, in general, if a landlord is made aware of a dangerous situation or maintenance issues that pose a risk to tenants and visitors and does not fix it within a reasonable amount of time and someone gets hurt because of it, then the landlord is typically held liable. For example, there is a hole in the yard where tenants usually spend time and the hole is not easily seen, so it poses a safety risk. The landlord is made aware of the issue. One weekend a visitor steps into the hole and breaks her ankle. In this case, the landlord would likely be held responsible.

However, even in some situations where the landlord is aware of an issue and has not taken steps to fix it, liability may not fall on the landlord. An example would be if whatever is posing the risk is obvious, such as an uneven sidewalk or a clearly broken stair. If a visitor were to get hurt due to simply not paying attention, some courts may not hold the landlord liable.

Things also change if the injury occurs inside the rental property. If the injury is caused by negligence on the renter's part, then the renter could be held liable. This is why renters are advised to obtain rental insurance.

When it comes to rental properties in California and visitor injuries, cases are not often as easy to figure out as one may think. Situations can become complex and liability may fall on the landlord, renter or even the injured person. If you have questions about property liability issues, consider consulting Nield Law Group, APC.