Being a landlord can be a rewarding experience and a savvy financial endeavor, but it also means taking on some important responsibilities. As the landlord, if you fail to meet certain expectations, you could be found liable and have to face a variety of consequences. Fortunately, you can address these potential issues up front and avoid unnecessary problems. Here are some of the main landlord liabilities you will need to take into consideration.
1. Prevent Injuries
As the landlord, you will be expected to keep the rental property as safe as possible in order to prevent injuries. While accidents will happen, if a resident is injured and you are found at fault due to negligence, you will be responsible for medical bills and other costs. The best way to avoid these expenses and keep your residents safe is to properly maintain your property.
2. Provide a Safe Living Space
This liability is closely tied to the responsibility to prevent injury. If something goes wrong and it becomes apparent that the landlord knew that the housing wasn’t safe and chose not to make the necessary repairs or improvements, they will be held liable for injuries and damage. To avoid this situation, be sure to respond to resident requests promptly and be proactive about performing inspections to detect issues as early as possible. It is important that you keep up with the overall condition of all your properties to help ensure safe housing and avoid major repairs.
3. Carry Proper Insurance Coverage
It is important that the entire value of the property is covered by insurance. In many cases, standard policies don’t provide coverage for events such as floods and earthquakes. Make sure that you purchase additional coverage if necessary so that you and your resident are financially protected in case of a catastrophic event.
4. Follow Anti-Discrimination Laws
Landlords are legally obligated to avoid discrimination based on race, gender, religion, and other factors. All leasing decisions should be made fairly and in accordance with local laws. If applicants are discriminated against, the landlord can be held liable. Be sure to review the discrimination laws in your area and establish a clear system for vetting applicants.
5. Provide Legal Disclosures
If there are any health or safety concerns associated with the property, these must be disclosed to the resident before they occupy the property. For example, if there is lead paint on the property, it could pose a health risk and the resident should be made aware. Again, failure to disclose any known problems with the property will mean that you are liable for injuries and damage.
6. Take Responsibility for Bad Residents
Hopefully, you are able to weed out any bad residents during the application process, but there is still the potential to end up with a resident who displays some bad behavior, which can range from illegal activity to annoying the other residents and neighbors. People who live close by shouldn’t have to be negatively impacted by your resident’s behavior. That is why landlords are responsible for addressing the problem and evicting the resident if necessary. Corrective actions have to be taken in order to protect the health and safety of everyone. Landlords who fail to take responsibility for their residents will be held liable and will face a variety of consequences.
7. Maintain Tax Records
Landlords are also considered business owners and expected to follow certain tax regulations and business laws. This includes maintaining tax records and making sure that your investments are in good standing. When you fail to maintain records, you automatically relinquish certain landlord rights and protections.
While becoming a landlord does come with certain responsibilities and liabilities, you can avoid problems by doing your own due diligence. Make sure that you clearly understand your role and what rights and responsibilities the residents also have. This will prevent any confusion and allow you to act decisively when problems do arise. A little knowledge and preparation can go a long way in protecting your investment and the integrity of your landlord business.
The best way to avoid landlord liability issues is to partner with a property management company that can offer years of experience and support the success of your landlord business. Deca Property Management has a long history of working with landlords throughout the St. Louis area. We help to streamline tasks and empower landlords with a wide range of services. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you address liability issues and manage all aspects of your rental property business.