Are landlords liable if their tenants break the law?

UPDATED: Jan 14, 2012

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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


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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