If you’re experienced in renting residential real estate, you likely have a litany of lease clauses that govern your tenant’s behavior in the premises and common areas. However, consider the following scenario: A tenant invites his friends to a party and the party gets a little rowdy. One of the tenant’s guests damages the premises. How are you protected under your lease?
Invitees of a tenant are less likely to respect your property because they don’t have a contractual relationship with you. Boilerplate leases are often silent regarding the tenant’s obligations to you for the acts of third parties. A good lease will thoroughly address this situation. Damage to the premises by the tenant or his guests/invitees should be an event of default under the lease. Furthermore, the tenant should have an obligation to indemnify you for the acts of tenant’s guests.
Like any well-run business, legal considerations shouldn’t be a landlord’s only concern. Tenants in your building expect a peaceful environmental. Noisy buildings and absentee landlords lead to lower lease renewal rates. Make sure your property manager maintains an open line of communication that promptly addresses tenants’ concerns and that your lease contains enforceable noise covenants. Not only does it make happier tenants, it decreases your risk of legal liability. For example, Indiana law provides that a landlord can be liable to a tenant if the landlord assumes a duty to protect the tenant and then negligently performs that duty. See, generally, Ctr. Mgmt. Corp. v. Bowman, 526 N.E.2d 228 (Ind. Ct. App. 1988); Nalls v. Blank, 571 N.E.2d 1321, 1323 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991). Having locked common area doors and advertising a building with a “secured entry” are each examples of a landlord assuming such a duty. A jury could find you negligent if you fail to address problem tenants and their guests and another person is injured as a result.
Having a well-drafted Lease prepared by an experienced real estate lawyer is a worthwhile investment against future problems caused by tenants and their guests. This article is not intended to be a definitive discussion regarding the complexities of the issues discussed above. To continue a discussion of the issues presented in this article, please contact Justin Leverton (email@example.com), or any of our attorney’s here. It would be our pleasure to assist you.