Matthew Worley, Esq.
If you’re a landlord and your tenants turn out to be criminals, can you be held liable?
A Michigan Supreme Court case addressed this question earlier this year. Generally, landlords cannot be held criminally liable for the illegal acts of their tenants. This, of course, isn’t true if the landlord participates in or aids in the illegal activity.
However, just because landlords cannot be held criminally liable, this doesn’t mean they have no duty regarding their tenant’s activities. In short, if the landlord knows about specific criminal acts of his tenants, and those acts pose an imminent risk of harm to an individual, the landlord owes a duty.
However, the duty on the landlord is minimal. The landlord only has to “reasonably expedite police involvement.” In other words, the landlord has to call the cops. Nothing more, nothing less. If the landlord doesn’t call the police, he may be held civilly liable to someone injured as a result of the illegal acts.
The moral of this case? Background Checks! If you are considering renting out a house, condo, or apartment, adequate background screening of potential tenants is the best way to prevent situations such as this.
If you are considering renting property and have questions about your potential liability, contact the experienced team of legal professionals at Fausone Bohn, LLP. We have attorneys knowledgeable in all areas of the law eager to assist you. We can be reached at (248) 380-0000 or online at www.fb-firm.com.