What is a co-signer’s liability in the case of a personal injury on the rental premises?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What is a co-signer’s liability in the case of a personal injury on the rental premises?

My am concerned about liability. My wife and I are retired. Our daughter wants to rent an apartment from an individual who has several units that he rents. Since our daughter’s credit is less than perfect, he has told her that she would be approved to rent if she has a responsible co-signer. We would be happy to co-sign and we won’t be named in the lease document or listed as occupants. The co-sign agreement states that it is an addendum to the lease and that we are jointly liable with the tenant for tenant’s obligations arising out of the lease agreement. We understand that we will be financially obligated for monetary compensation to the landlord for unpaid rent or damages to the unit, etc. Our concern is whether we would be responsible for financial liability if a visitor, friend or anyone else was injured in any way in the apartment even though we weren’t present at the time?

Thank you for your time and guidance.

Asked on February 7, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If the agreement states you are ONLY liable for the tenant's obligations to the landlord, that is all you can be held liable for, including by 3rd parties (guests, etc.) unless you personally are actually "at fault" in some way in causing an injury (e.g. you help your daughter install carpet and do a bad job, creating a loose edge which someone trips over; then you could be sued for creating that hazard). Otherwise, since you are not tenants and not occupants, you'd have no general liability: only the limited liability you agreed to accept.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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