Who is at fault? Landlord or Tenant

CA property lawWhen an injury occurs at your property — who is at fault….  the Landlord or the Tenant ?

This brings up an interesting topic that is the concern of many property owners & landlords across California.  Discovering your liability is an important matter and there are many factors to consider.  At Pro-Edge Property Management, we have been dealing with matters like these for years.  Having a good, experienced and knowledgeable team of experts behind you is exactly the peace of mind that so many desire when facing matters of liability.  We are here to help you!

So, lets dive into this topic a bit more. Together we will discover more about California law and hopefully provide some clarity on your liabilities….whether landlord or tenant.

Here’s the scenario:  If a tenant hurts himself in the rental property and the landlord did not know about the condition which caused the injury.

In this situation – who is at fault?  Well, that depends on the circumstances.  According to Mora v. Baker Commodities, Inc., 210 Cal. App.3d 771, 782 (1989)

“The burden of reducing or avoiding the risk and the likelihood of injury will affect the determination of what constitutes a reasonable inspection. The landlord’s obligation is only to do what is reasonable under the circumstances. The landlord need not take extraordinary measures or make unreasonable expenditures of time and money in trying to discover hazards unless the circumstances so warrant.”

Does that clear things up?  Clear like mud, right?  Well, basically there is a duty on behalf of the landlord to inspect the property thoroughly before the tenant takes possession.  All landlords must assess their properties for reasonable safety.  As the landlord you should inspect, repair and document all maintenance.   Several sources offer helpful tips and guidelines  for landlords to assist in preparing the property to become rent ready.  Here is our Owners Checklist to assist you. After following these guidelines the final inspection of the property should deem you “reasonably safe.” ~Swanberg v. O’Mectin, 157 CA3d 325 (1984)

Yes, but how do we know if it is reasonable? Well that answer is not so clear and simple….again, it depends. It depends on the facts of your case! According to Buildium, “We fall back on common sense.  If you are intimately familiar with the property you are about to rent – having lived there for five years – your duty to inspect probably is not great. You know what works, what does not, what is likely to injure (hopefully not much), and what is not. You know where the cracks in the slab in the garage are. In contrast, if you are not familiar with the property, you ought to conduct a more thorough inspection. If you just bought the property and have not had extensive time with it, you might consider a more thorough inspection. You might document what you find and give it to the tenant in writing, or repair as required.

….. if the inspection uncovers something dangerous, you ought to repair the condition before giving possession to the tenant. But if there is an open and obvious condition that is itself a warning to and is patent to the tenant that it is dangerous, the landlord might not be liable for any resultant injuries. And further, if one possesses legal title but does not yet have control – that key word in our liability analysis – they cannot be held liable for injuries. If they have no opportunity to inspect and/or repair, their liability is usually precluded.”

In conclusion, be sure to do your part so that you are not held responsible for injuries caused by negligence.  And, for you landlords — remember, Pro-Edge Property is ready to handle your property management needs.  We can relieve the burden of stress that comes with managing your own property.  Contact us today!  Visit our website, send an email or call us at 831-438-3343.


Resource Article – Buildium This blog submission is only for purposes of disseminating information. It does not constitute legal advice. The statements in these blog submissions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Robinson & Wood, Inc. or its clients. No attorney-client relationship is formed by virtue of reading this blog entry or submitting a comment thereto. If you need legal advice, please hire a licensed attorney in your state.

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