Are landlords liable if their tenants break the law?

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Are landlords liable if their tenants break the law?

Are landlords liable if their tenants break laws? Can the landlord be sued if something happened at the house? For example, if the renters let their underage kids drink and someone got into an accident can the landlord be sued for damages?

Asked on January 14, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Typically a landlord is not responsible for any criminal acts by his or her tenants. As such, your question of the landlord being charged with a criminal act for underage drinking seems unlikely unless the landlord provided alcohol to minors.

As to civil liabilty of the landlord for an accident happening at a rental where someone is hurt and sues for damages, the landlord if advised of a dangerous situation does nothing, or if the landlord should have known about a dangerous situation does nothing to correct it and someone is injured, the landlord can be sued for negligence.

An example would be a loose railing down a flight of stairs where the railing breaks and a person is injured. If the landlord had been warned about the danger and did nothing, he or she could very well be sued for any resulting injuries to a person.


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