Preparing for the day when a tenant’s negligence might land you in hot water is always problematic for property owners. When they signed the contract, hopefully, your renter agreed to keep your Merrifield rental home clean and properly maintained and to refrain from illegal activities. Problems that start on the property can quickly grow into problems for you since not all tenants are able to live up to the specifics listed in their lease agreement with you.
Even though you are not held accountable for the fraudulent ventures your tenant may engage in, if you find out that your rental home is being used to conduct business, and your owners’ association does not allow this activity, your neighbors could hold you accountable. The end result of any legal action taken against you will likely rely on two things: how much you knew about the problem (and when), and whether or not you took steps to stop it.
How and When You Knew
Once in a while, you’ll get tenants who are exceptionally good at hiding shady activities from their landlords. Even so, if you do come across something happening on your rental property, it is crucial to immediately take action to fix the problems. In some regions, if your renter does something dangerous or illegal as a result of ongoing activities of which you were aware, you could be held liable in court. Like if you knew one of your tenants was using your rental home as a daycare and one of your renter’s or their clients hurt someone, themselves, or damaged personal property, the court could be more likely to hold you liable for any damages.
The Slippery Slope of “Should”
The question of whether or not you “should” have known about a renter’s illicit activities rarely arises. For instance, if you perceive your tenant is self-employed before you extend an offer of a lease, then you must conclude that they could administer that line of work from the rental home. What’s more, if your renter had been evicted for loud parties in the past, you may be held accountable since you should have checked with their previous landlord about it. By all means, your probability of avoiding liability will multiply if you’ve done due diligence and didn’t find any indications of past problems.
Addressing the Problem
It is always a great idea to tackle any problems a renter is making as soon as you know about them. But there are times when a property owner has a limited capacity to sort out the problem. If a tenant is creating a nuisance for the neighbors but hasn’t actually broken the terms of the lease, you can’t be held responsible for failing to evict them. In order to be liable, you must show that you are in control and are able to do something about the problem. The other side of the coin is that if your lease clearly states that you don’t permit loud parties or business activities and you don’t deal with it immediately, you could be on the hook for a lawsuit.
The specific terms and language used in the lease is an important first step toward holding your tenants accountable for any nuisance or illicit activities. For the meantime, taking an instant and needed action is paramount to avert the potential scenario of being sued by furious neighbors. Cautiously checking up on your renters is another indispensable part of keeping away from unwanted legal concerns, as is carrying out routine property evaluations. At Real Property Management Deluxe, we can do all of this for our Merrifield property owners. Would you like to hear more? Please contact us online or by phone at 218-454-7962 for more information.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.