Am I Responsible if My Tenant Gets Injured?
In the UK a landlord has responsibility for ensuring their rental property is safe and secure to live in.
This means, that should your tenant sustain an injury through your negligence, you could be taken to court and end up forking out thousands of pounds, depending on the seriousness of the incident.
That’s because tenancy agreements are subject to the rules of under Common law which says properties must be secure for both tenants and their visitors. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 goes further by insisting it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure a property is “fit for human habitation and properly maintained.” This applies to both the inside and exterior of the property. It covers aspects such as repairs, dampness and the building being weather-proof.
Is the Landlord Responsible for Tenant Injuries?
The type of injuries and health conditions a tenant sustains and which their landlords could be liable for include:
- tripping over a loose or uneven floorboard or poorly-fitted carpet
- falling downstairs when a wooden bannister gives way
- ending up in hospital after getting a shock from faulting wiring
- exacerbated asthma through mould spores in the bathroom
- displaying symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
- receiving burns because the hot water is scalding
Are Tenants Entitled to Compensation?
Provided the tenant can prove that their injury was the result of negligence or caused by something their landlord had done eg faulty wiring, then they have a case the court must take seriously.
This will more often than not prove successful if the tenant can prove that the landlord already knew about the problem because they had written to them about it, spelling out the difficulties it was causing them.
What Is the Tenant Responsible for?
The tenant should inform the landlord of anything that needs repaired in the flat or if there’s something that isn’t working properly eg water in the hot tap being constantly boiling.
How Much Can a Landlord Be Sued for?
Successful injury claims can run in to tens of thousands of pounds. That’s because there are often a number of different parts to a claim. There is ‘general damages’ which is the pain and suffering your tenants has experienced.
Then there is ‘special damages.’ This is for the tenant’s loss of earnings if their injury meant they had to take time off work. It could also include the cost of their treatment (ie ongoing physiotherapy appointments) as well as any damage caused in the incident eg ripped clothing, smashed computer etc.
How Landlords Can Protect Themselves?
Of course, the best defence for a landlord is to ensure there are no ‘hazards’ in their property in the first place. The next best action is to carry out repairs as soon as they can when a tenant informs them of what needs to be done.
A third option is to take out Landlord Insurance. This should cover the costs of the court ie the compensation awarded and also solicitor’s fees. The latter can easily run into hundreds of pounds if the case lasts a whole day or is constantly adjourned. Landlords should be aware though that if they fail to carry out repairs when asked then the insurance claim may be rejected as this is usually part of their obligations and will be part of the insurance company policy’s terms and conditions.
It’s always a good idea to build up a positive relationship with your tenant. Not only does this just make life easier, but it also helps should an injury arise. It usually means the claims process is easier and there isn’t as much need for expensive solicitors.
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