Landlords – Are Your Liabilities Covered?

Landlords liability insurance is vital to ensure property owners are not ruined through lawsuits if a tenant or one of their visitors should have an accident in the property.

As a landlord, there will be some areas where you will be legally liable, which confers a number of responsibilities and also means there are some potential risks.

It is important to know what these are and prepare accordingly, but also to have the right insurance policy.

Legal responsibilities

Landlord liability concerns any instance where a fault with the property can lead to a tenant or a visitor to the property being injured. Clearly this will not cover every accident, as some of these may be the fault of the person concerned – such as slipping on a wet floor after spilling something on it, for example. However, liability will arise if a fault in a property is in any way a contributory factor to an accident.

Examples of property defects

Examples of defects that could lead to personal injury are numerous and, in many cases, obvious. Examples might include a loose floorboard, a carpet not properly attached to a staircase, dangerous wiring, poorly-maintained gas appliances or even something as simple as a leaky water pipe that makes a tiled floor dangerously slippery.

The Defective Premises Act
The Defective Premises Act 1972 covers this issue. Under its terms, the liability is a civil one, rather than criminal, which means a landlord can be sued for damages in the event of a tenant suffering death or injury, or if their possessions are damaged or destroyed.

It is important to note that this liability arises not just from a landlord failing to repair a defect they are aware of, but also those they should have known about, but didn’t. Therefore the liability would arise in cases of culpability and negligence alike.

Making sure work is up to standard

Section one of the 1972 Act requires that any remedial work that is carried out on a property is done in a “professional” or “workmanlike” way, uses the “proper materials” and leaves the property “fit for human habitation” when completed.

What can go wrong?

Even the most diligent landlord will be at some risk under the law, as there is always the chance that a defect may arise that leads to an accident before they have had a chance to act. For instance, a leaky water pipe may arise as a result of the freezing and thawing conditions of winter and lead to a problem arising suddenly.

While such a claim may be defended in any civil case, the lower burden of proof means even a marginal decision could go against the landlord. Any successful claim against a landlord could have ruinous consequences and even if a claim is successfully resisted, the legal process can be very stressful.

Be insured, have peace of mind

The one way to have complete peace of mind and be fully protected against any claims is to have landlords liability insurance. This comprehensively covers against any case that may arise and ensures any claim against you is fully met.

It can be included as part of an overall landlord insurance policy and while it does not diminish your responsibility to make sure a property is kept in good order, it does ensure you are fully protected.

Being a landlord is an undertaking that should be treated like a business. Just as a company will have its own employer and public liability insurance, so landlord’s insurance will be vital in protecting your investment and future financial plans.