As a landlord, it can be quite a challenge to keep up with your property and you’ll never really know when a tenant’s negligence could land you in a deep mess. When they signed the lease, hopefully, your renter agreed to keep your Glen Burnie rental home clean and properly maintained and to refrain from illegal activities. Not all tenants will be doing their part to follow the terms in the lease, and problems that began on the property can rapidly become problems for you.
Though you are not held liable for the activities of your tenants that are not in accordance with the law, 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 outcome of any legal action taken against you will probably be subject to 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
There are times when tenants are so great at hiding shady activities from their landlords. Which is why, if you do realize that something is amiss on your rental property, it is vital that you act on these issues instantly. 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. For example, 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”
Some situations also happen when you are being questioned if you “should” have known about a renter’s illicit activities may arise. For example, if you already have an idea that your tenant is self-employed before you offer them a lease, there is some misunderstanding about whether or not that means that you should have expected they would be conducting that business in the rental home. Furthermore, 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. Of course, if you’ve done due diligence and didn’t uncover any evidence of prior offenses, that will boost your odds of avoiding liability.
Addressing the Problem
You have to take action as soon as you hear about a renter problem. However, there are also times when a property owner has a limited ability to remedy the situation entirely. 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. To be held liable, you must have the authority to act on it completely. The flip side is that if your lease makes it clear that you don’t allow loud parties or business activities and you don’t take action, you might be on the hook in 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. At the same time, taking immediate and appropriate action is also crucial to keeping yourself from being sued by angry neighbors. Screening your renters thoroughly is one more vital part of keeping yourself out of unwanted legal distress, as is carrying out consistent property assessments. At Real Property Management Capital, we do all of this for our Glen Burnie property owners – and more. Would you like to learn more? Please contact us online or by phone at 301-869-5001 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.