Landlords Liability for Tenants Safety
I was contacted this week by a fraught landlord who was the subject to a negligence claim from their tenant. The claim for damages resulted from a broken kitchen door allegedly falling and breaking the tenants foot.
These kind of personal injury claims are more common than you think. A recent conversation with Chris Greaves at the specialist landlord insurance brokers Alan Boswell reveals that by far the largest number of claims against landlords relate to paving slabs. Landlords with crazy paving beware!
What To Do If You Receive A Claim
Firstly, don’t panic. Obviously, any responsible landlord will be deeply concerned that one of their tenants has been hurt. It would be inhuman to react in any other way. However, a landlord needs to guard against over reacting with their concern for the tenants welfare in case they appear to be admitting guilt for the injury. Neither should landlords rush out and employ an army of solicitors. The legal profession are going to hate me for saying this, but save your money.
Landlord Must Have Been Negligent
Landlords should be aware that they have a general duty of care to keep their rental property in reasonable order under the Occupiers Liability Act and also with the provisions of the tenancy in the Housing Act 1988 (as amended)
Chris Greaves of specialist landlord insurance brokers Alan Boswell advises that for a successful claim to be brought against the landlord; there must have been some form of negligence on the part of the landlord (i.e. he must have known the cupboard door was faulty for instance).
Engaging In Dialogue With The Tenant
The landlord should be wary about engaging in direct dialogue with the tenant in case it is used against them should the case go to court. However, a balance needs to be struck between keeping on cordial terms with the tenant and protecting the landlords’ interest. It is always advisable to copy any correspondence sent or received with the tenant to their insurance broker or landlord insurance company.
Using A Landlord Insurance Broker
Personal injury claims like any other claims unveil the importance of having a good insurance broker to work alongside. This is where a good landlord insurance broker comes into their own by liaising with the insurance company and the landlord to bring about a quick and speedy resolution of any claim. All claims should really be investigated by the insurer under the Property Owners Liability section of the landlords’ insurance policy.
The Good News
Even if the claim by the tenant is successful and the landlord is found to be liable then a good policy should still provide cover against any damages awarded against the landlord. A good landlord insurance policy will cover the landlord for personal liability claims. However, it’s always best to double check with your broker that this cover is in place. My insurance is up for my property portfolio next month and guess what will be the first thing that I’ll be asking about on my cover.
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