As an owner of a South Florida rental property, you shouldn’t concern yourself only with rent collection. You should also be worried about potential liabilities that may arise due to the neglect of your responsibilities. In this article, we’ll tackle the common landlord liability issues we hope you won’t encounter, as well as how you can prevent them in the first place.
Common Landlord Liability Issues
#1 Awareness of Criminal Activity
Landlords may be held liable if they’re aware of their tenant’s criminal acts, and yet they allow them to continue their criminal acts while on the rental property. So, if you find out that your tenant is doing illegal drugs (and throwing “parties”) in their rental property, but you tolerate it anyway, you will be in legal trouble – there’s no doubt about that.
Your tenants should be able to live in a South Florida rental unit that meets the bare minimum standards of habitability. This refers to a property that is safe, free from mold infestations, pest infestations, and more. If you do not maintain your rental property’s habitability, your tenant can take you to court, and you will likely be held liable.
If your tenant is injured on your rental property, and you’re found to have been responsible for that injury, you will be held liable. This can occur when you fail to implement the necessary safety measures to prevent the accident from happening in the first place.
For example, if you failed to fix the stairs and your tenant slipped as they walked up the stairs, your tenants will likely sue and you will probably be held liable. Remember, as the landlord, you are responsible for making sure your rental is safe at all times.
#4 Harm By Employees
Be careful about who you hire. They may be third-party vendors, but you may still be held liable in the event that your plumbers, electricians, and more harm your tenants. That’s precisely why you should partner with a South Florida property management firm that already has a vetted network of vendors. You can be sure that the contractors they hire have already been strictly screened.
How to Reduce the Risk of Liability Issues
#1 Encourage Tenants to Voice Out Their Concerns
Every once in a while, ask your tenants to sit down with you for a cup of coffee. Use this time to talk about what’s been bothering your tenants. Encourage them to air out their concerns to you (or to your property management company if they’re uncomfortable talking about their problems with you).
You don’t need to aim for formality – all you need is to provide your tenants with a place to voice out their concerns, complaints, and more. You’ve given your tenants the chance to voice out their concerns – so if they claim that you’ve forgotten about them, you can be certain that it’s untrue.
Plus, your tenants can be “tattletales” about their neighbors. If they’re aware that one tenant is conducting criminal acts in their unit, they can use this chance to tattle on you.
#2 Don’t Have Any Bad Blood With Your Tenants
Your relationship with your tenant won’t always be trouble-free – there will be times when you will be in bad blood with them. It’s inevitable, but bad blood becomes a problem when it’s allowed to go on for far too long. If you have any problems with your tenant (or the other way around), communicate with your tenant and tell them about your problems with them.
For example, if you’re angry that they’re always late on rent, express this to your tenants – don’t assume that they’re doing it only to annoy you, but remember that there may be a reasonable explanation as to why. Don’t go out of your way to be vengeful towards your tenant not only is that extremely unprofessional, but it will also get you in legal trouble.
#3 Put Their Safety on Priority
By far, one of the best ways to lower the risk of liability is to put their safety on priority. By doing so, you’ll be able to safeguard your property against would-be burglars and protect your tenants from criminal acts.
One way to put your tenant’s safety on priority is to install security cameras around the rental property. Be sure not to point it into the property as that’ll get you in legal trouble. In addition, the front door should be brightly lit to safeguard your tenants during times when they get home late at night.
#4 Don’t Forget Your Tenants are People, Too
One of the worst things you can do is to consider your tenants as cash-generating assets. Although this is sort of true, you should understand that your tenants are, first and foremost, also people that need respect. With that said, you should always communicate with your tenants properly and professionally.
If you intimidate your tenant or threaten them in any way, you will undoubtedly be in legal trouble. Yes, you’re in the rental business, but your tenants aren’t your business partners, so don’t blame them.
If you’re looking to partner with a property management firm, be sure to choose a reputable one that knows how to treat tenants properly. An expert property management company should be able to pay for their team to undergo regular training. In this way, they can ensure that their team stays up to date on current industry practices.
#5 Deal With Tenant Complaints Promptly
Don’t let a day go by without dealing with a tenant’s complaints, even if it’s only to send an email acknowledging their complaint. That way, your tenant can’t claim that you failed (or worse, refused to) deal with their concerns promptly.
Whenever your tenants have complaints, do your best to deal with their problems as soon as possible. Do not disregard their concerns even if you believe they’re overreacting – chances are, what doesn’t bother you may be bothering them immensely. Follow through on concerns, complaints, and more to show tenants that you’re truly concerned about them, and to protect yourself from potential lawsuits.
Partner With the Pros Today
When you partner with a property management company such as Luxury Property Care, you can treat your property and your tenants with the expert care they deserve. Contact us today at (561) 944 – 2992 or complete our contact form to discuss your needs.