As more individuals choose to rent out basements suites or invest in rental properties it is important for potential landlords to be aware of their liability for accidents or falls that occur on their rental property. Residential landlords may not have complete control over a rented premises or the members of the public who have access to a premises but they can still be found liable for injuries that occur in/on their rental properties.
Liability for injuries that occur on any property in BC is governed by the Occupiers Liability Act that establishes that a landlord can be held liable if the landlord was responsible for the maintenance or repair of the rental unit. The Residential Tenancy Regulations of BC imposes on a Landlord the duty to maintain the residential property in a reasonable state of repair. A landlord’s duty to provide a residential premises in a reasonable state of repair has been found to apply to the construction and condition of flooring, deck railing, installed shelving and plants fixtures. It is essential for a landlord to ensure that all aspects of the rental unit under their control are safe for occupancy.
The duty imposed upon landlords includes a duty of reasonable inspection by the landlord prior to and during the occupancy. In order to discharge the duties imposed by the Occupiers Liability Act a landlord must show that they took sufficient steps to identify hazards upon their rental premises prior to renting it out. It is important that prior to renting out a rental unit it is inspected for potential hazards, records of this inspection are maintained and any hazards are removed or repaired.
As a landlord it is important to ensure that a clear communication/system is established for tenants to report any potential hazards on the rental property and periodic safety inspections of the property occur. If a tenant does report a potential safety hazard or a hazard is identified during an inspection a landlord should ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to repair the potential hazard as soon as possible.
As a precaution it is advisable for landlords to maintain not only property insurance for their rental units but also third party liability insurance.