Enter your email address for weekly access to top multifamily blogs!

All Things Property Management

All Things Property Management is a one-stop destination for folks interested in learning more about managing real estate. Broken down into a variety of targeted columns, the information that you are looking for is easily accessible — from investing tips and best practices in The Intelligent Investor to the real-life dilemmas of property managers in Stories from the Front Lines. We’ve brought on contributing writers from across the country to share their respective expertise with you, whether you’re a landlord, a professional property manager, or an association board member. Your feedback, participation, and comments will help us deliver the information you need most.

If It Is Broke, Don't Delegate

By Colin McCarthy, J.D., Robinson & Wood, San Jose, CA

Even after our little spigot fiasco, my father and I are speaking again. In fact, it did not take long. We both bonded over the fact that later that night, my wife and I walked out of the George Clooney movie, the Descendants. My wife and I both were bored out of our minds and had little empathy for a guy who owned all of Hawaii. I mean, really? I'm supposed to feel sorry for this guy!? Dad, being generally anti-Hollywood applauded our decision to vacate the movie theater in favor of the bar next door.

We got to talking, and we agreed that in the future, it would be best if I not ask him to do repairs on our house. It's not really something I should delegate to him. We decided on the McCarthy "non-delegable duty of repairs” rule - I must do my own repairs.

By operation of law in California, a landlord also has a non-delegable duty regarding repairs. If the negligent – grossly negligent one might argue – repairs my father attempted were on a tenant's dwelling that I rented out, I still would be liable for any injuries it caused. So if the tenant got hurt from this negligent repair, they could still sue me.

Landlord RepairA landlord cannot escape liability for his repair duties by having someone else do the repairs. This duty to repair is "non-delegable." Thus when a landlord hires a plumber, or other handyman to do a repair, if the plumber or handyman does not do it correctly, and an injury results, the landlord is still liable. Some examples of cases which held the duty to repair as non-delegable, and exposed the landlord to liability include:

  • Sink in a school bathroom
  • Water heater
  • Roof
  • Elevators
  • Proper waxing of floors

Thus when a landlord hires a subcontractor in California to perform repairs on these or other fixtures, but does not repair them correctly, liability will attach for any later injuries.

The landlord certainly can seek redress from the subcontractor. If the plumber messes up the repair and injury results, when the landlord gets sued, he can sue the plumber (full employment of attorneys act, its true).

In many cases, the contract between the landlord and the independent contractor should cover such instances. It should spell out – expressly – who is responsible for what and that the independent contractor will be responsible to hold the landlord harmless from any suits. We'll talk about contractual provisions with respect to some of these duties in later posts.

This blog submission is only for purposes of disseminating information. It does not constitute legal advice. The statements in this blog submission do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Robinson & Wood, Inc. or its clients. No attorney-client relationship is formed by virtue of reading this blog entry or submitting a comment thereto. If you need legal advice, please hire a licensed attorney in your state.

Rate this blog entry:
0
 

Comment Below

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
  STOP ask yourself do you do your follow up calls or thank you cards?!?!?!?  By Jolene Sopalski Leasing Specialist WRH Realty Services If you answered no to that question then I want you to hold up your right hand and pledge the following “ I will  start following up with my prospects no prospect will go un-followed up”. Good now if you are one of the ones that said yes I do my follow up calls and thank you cards I want to give you a big hug so just picture me giving&...
Demand for apartments in Dallas/Fort Worth is getting back on track. During the first three months of the year, renters absorbed 6,520 apartment units, the best quarterly demand performance seen since fall 2007. The occupied apartment count climbed by 9,970 units between March 2009 and March 2010. It appears that a stabilizing local economy is allowing apartment demand to pick up again. While the annual employment change numbers still look pretty bad, most of that loss actually occurr...
A few weeks ago, we talked about 10 Signs of Property Management Success. This week, we’re going to take a look at the flip side of that coin, reviewing some indicators that it may be time to make some changes (after all, the time for New Years’ resolutions is just around the corner!). Following are a few red flags to keep an eye out for in your property management business. 1. Lack of referrals – This applies to both tenants and property owners. In an ideal scenario, you shou...