How Can You Protect Yourself From Injury-Related Liabilities?

What follows are some tips to make your tenants’ lives safer and happier while at the same time protecting yourself from lawsuits and hefty insurance settlements:

  • Follow a maintenance plan: Be on the lookout for dangerous conditions and make repairs on time. Comply with all health, safety and building codes. Conduct regular safety checks and ask tenants to report problems in a timely manner. Document repairs for your records.

  • Warn tenants of dangers you cannot fix: Dangers like steep lanes or winding stairs may not be easy to change. However, if you know or should know about these flaws, it is your responsibility to tell the tenant. The best way to do this is to mention them in your lease, rental agreement or check-in letter. If appropriate, also place a warning sign near the danger zone.

  • Look for tenant security issues: You should install security features for your tenants such as door locks, window locks, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and any other basic features necessary for your property.

  • Be vigilant about potential dangers to children: If a child wants to play near dangerous areas such as a pile of building materials or an abandoned refrigerator (called an "attractive nuisance" in legal terms), you must be very careful. Because young children may ignore warnings or not be able to read them, you should set physical barriers between children and these attractive nuisances. A better option is to remove them entirely.

  • Supervise contractors: If your property is under construction, make sure the person in charge protects the site by removing or locking up dangerous equipment when the site is left unattended. Consider writing a notice to the tenant recommending additional precautions during the construction period.