Being liable when someone is injured on your property is a scary prospect for all homeowners. In most countries, you could be sued if found to be negligent in your duty of care of someone visiting, working or residing in your property.
In this article, we look at what you need to know about health and safety, negligence and liability as a homeowner.
Property investors and homeowners need to make sure their properties are fit for their purpose. As soon as you purchase a property, get it inspected by expert certified tradespeople, including:
A fast way to be sued is someone being electrocuted. Make sure all live wires are earthed and secure and that your electrical circuits are not overloaded.
As a new homeowner, it is easy to overlook the wiring and electrical equipment as most of it is behind the wall – so it is out of sight. Trust the experts and put aside a budget for maintenance or replacement of equipment and wiring. To delay the work could be the difference between a safe or dangerous environment for anyone on the property. See this article by Mottaz & Sisk Injury Law on electrical shock injuries and their causes.
A plumber will check your pipes, drainage systems, including sewerage, your water systems and measure moisture levels. If there is a mold, then that’s unhealthy and can lead to health issues like asthma or influenza. You won’t want to be liable for tenants in your property getting sick.
Get a fire safety check done. Do you have working fire alarms in the right locations? Your home may contain dangerous chemicals or fire hazard materials. It is better to know what you’re dealing with and plan to remove and replace items that are a fire hazard to you and the safety of anyone visiting your home.
When you buy a home, there could be all types of material hazards that could cause injury. Get a property inspection done so you know if your home is fit for purpose and there are no unsecured building materials that could cause an accident.
Know that a worker could end up suing you if they get injured on your property. When you hire a trades team or contractor, it’s your responsibility to check they have sufficient insurance cover for their business and team of workers.
If you are on the other side and were injured while working on someone’s property, know that you could sue them as well if they showed negligence.
Plus, it’s not just your tradespeople who can make a claim. Your tenants may also have due cause to take you to court for lack of due care should they suffer a fall and sustain an injury.
Slip and Fall
Slip and fall injuries are widespread, and landlords often have to deal with people taking legal action.
Was the accident preventable? Did the landlord know of the hazard, and therefore there was beyond doubt neglect?
For example, if one of your tenants slips and falls because the roof was leaking, they must prove that you knew of the leak. If you did, and they slipped before you had the time to fix the issue, then they could have a case. If someone slips on ice on the stairs, then the contract with the tenant will determine if you’re liable or not.
Know that your house guests could sue if they get injured on your property. This could even be the case for someone coming for an open house viewing if you’re selling up or they are visiting for dinner.
Do all you can to prove you have taken health and safety around the home seriously with pre and post home purchase inspections by the experts. Plus, get your home routinely inspected and, when maintenance is required acted promptly, so you’re on the right side of the law.