Tort Liability of Tenants
Because a tenant is an occupier of property, the tenant is liable for all dangerous conditions or activities that are conducted on the property just as any other occupier of property would be. However, the tenant is only liable for areas over which he or she has control. The tenant is not responsible for areas outside the leased premises or over which the landlord has control.
If a tenant and a landlord share control over an area, both the tenant and the landlord may be held liable for injuries to a third party. If the tenant assumes control over an area that is not included within the leased premises, the tenant has a duty to exercise reasonable care with regard to that area.
A tenant’s liability for leased premises usually stops when the tenant no longer has possession of the leased premises. However, if the tenant concealed or failed to disclose a dangerous condition to a landlord after he or she turned over possession of the leased premises, the tenant may be liable for the dangerous condition. The tenant must have realized the risk of the dangerous condition and must have had reason to believe that the landlord would not discover the dangerous condition, and the landlord must not have known about the dangerous condition.
A tenant who subleases premises without a landlord’s consent may be liable for the tort of trespass. Trespass is defined as the wrongful interference with a person’s use or possession of property. If a subtenant leases the premises without the landlord’s consent, the tenant is deemed to be allowing the subtenant to interfere with the landlord’s use or possession of the property. In such a case, the tenant will be liable for the landlord’s damages.