Real Estate Law
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Your primary defense beyond a personal liability policy such as the umbrella policy is your lease agreement. The lease agreement should indicate that the tenant is responsible for maintaining the property in a safe and clean condition. Tenants should be responsible for replacing batteries in smoke detectors. Your lease should provide a time frame and method for reporting damage or other issues on the property. It can also indicate that any injury resulting from the tenants failure to maintain the property or properly report any deficiencies in the property are the tenants responsibility (hold harmless clause in your lease). Your lease should also provide that any injury suffered by guests of the tenant are the tenant's responsibility.
You should provide the tenants with a local contact for emergency repairs or safety problem. In most cases the law provides that a landlord cannot be sued for what the landlord is not aware of, however once aware the law is unforgiving on failure to remedy or mitigate.
Optionally, you should hire someone locally to perform a periodic inspection of the property to make sure all electrical, plumbing, and structural components of the property are properly maintained. Having a record of this would bolster any argument that to your knowledge the property was in good condition. Many communities require such inspections every 2 years or so. In addition to the structural components items such as fire alarms, smoke detectors, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers are checked for proper operation.
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This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship.Information provided here is not legal advice. Rather it is simply general information.