If you owned a business, you would do everything you could to protect yourself from liability. Well, being a landlord is essentially like a business – so why don’t we always look to protect ourselves in the same way? During my long experience as a property manager, I have seen landlords sued by their tenants on countless occasions, and it is becoming more and more common. But, worryingly, I’ve also found that many landlords aren’t aware of the risks they face, and aren’t adequately protected. Here, I will cover the main points you should know as a landlord.
Increasing Burden on Landlords
Industry standards and legislative requirements are always changing. Landlords now face a higher degree of responsibility in relation to their duty of care to tenants and visitors of their property. Not only are the number of risks high, but the amount of money a landlord could be liable to pay can be astronomical!
As an example, in 2013, a landlord was liable to pay his tenant $300,000 compensation after the tenant was seriously injured when the balustrade of a balcony collapsed. This was caused by the landlord’s failure to ensure that the balcony was properly maintained and routinely inspected.
Prevention is Best
In light of cases such as this, it’s clear to see why landlords need to take steps to protect themselves. Of course, prevention is always best. Landlords should take every precaution to ensure their property is reasonably safe and well-maintained. This will not only help to ensure the health and happiness of tenants, but also prevent any potential lawsuits.
But while prevention is always best, accidents happen! Landlords can’t rely on their agents or property managers alone as a complete solution to the risk of liability. We always do what we can to help, but in reality, even agents exhibiting “best Practice” cannot cover the field in today’s legal landscape. What we can do though, is provide our professional opinion and recommend the services you need to ensure your valuable investment is safe.
A Crucial Line of Defence: Insurance
This is where insurance comes into play. Insurance is the vital line of defence which protects landlords from liability if they ever find themselves being sued by tenants. Landlord insurance usually includes public liability insurance, which insures the landlord for injury, death or property damage caused to other people.
Generally, public liability insurance covers the landlord for up to $20 million legal liability for any incident on their rental property. If a tenant successfully sues a landlord, this insurance will cover the landlord for:
- Damages awarded to the claimant
- The landlord’s legal costs
- The claimant’s legal costs, if the landlord is at fault.
Without insurance, a landlord could find themselves facing a very hefty bill. Before you take out insurance though, compare different policies and make sure you choose a policy which covers you for everything you need!
If you have any questions or would like an experienced agent managing your investment property, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Vogue Real Estate