Can a Landlord Be Held Liable for a Tenant’s Bad Action in Florida?
If you are like most landlords, you have little desire to be involved in the day-to-day lives on your tenants. After all, landlords are not babysitters. Still, as a property owner, it is extremely important that you keep an eye on what happens on your premises. In some cases, a Florida landlord can actually be held legally responsible for the bad actions of one of their tenants. If your tenant is selling drugs, has a dangerous dog or is engaging in some other type of dangerous conduct on your property, you may bear liability if something goes wrong. As a landlord, you must take proactive steps to protect yourself.
When Can a Landlord Be Held Liable?
The Landlord Knew or Should Have Known
Landlords can only be held liable for the bad actions of a tenant if the knowledge requirement is met. In most cases, this means that the landlord must have had actual knowledge of the tenant’s bad actions in order to bear liability. Though, in some limited cases, landlords can also be held liable if a court determines that they ‘should have known’ about the tenant’s activities. Ignorance is not bliss. While courts certainly do not expect landlords to be monitor every action of a tenant, they should take reasonable steps to understand what is happening on their premises.
The Landlord Failed to Exercised Power
Additionally, a landlord can only be held liable for tenant actions if it is determined that they failed to exercise their power to reduce the risks. This does not meant that landlords are required to take herculean steps to stop the bad actions of a tenant. However, if there is something reasonable that a landlord could do to remove a safety hazard, that reasonable measure should be taken.
The Simple Way That Landlords Can Protect Themselves
As a landlord, you can and should hold your tenant to the terms of the lease. If your tenant is violating the lease, please take immediate corrective action. For example, imagine that a neighbor calls you to inform you that one of your tenants has a dangerous dog in their apartment. This dog is on the property in violation of the lease. You should take action. You can start by notifying the tenant of the violation and demanding that they remove the dog from the property. If they fail to do so, you should contact your attorney and initiate the proper eviction procedures. While you may not want to evict, the fact is that allowing that dangerous animal to remain puts you at liability risk.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
Our team is standing by, ready to help. At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our West Palm Beach landlord tenant litigation attorneys have extensive experience protecting the legal rights of landlords throughout South Florida. Do not let yourself become liable for the bad actions of your tenant. To learn more about we can do for you, please contact our office today at (561) 291-8298 to schedule a free review of your case.