Landlord Liability


What is the liability risk to a landlord or property manager who does not do a tenant background check or a tenant screening? The two are different, here is why.


  1. Normal risk is as noted above.
  2. Risk of income loss from a law suit is a whole different ball game.


That could result where it is deemed that a landlord didn't take reasonable measures to screen out a bad tenant. And there was a serious assault, or drug trafficking that created a problem or harmed the tenant community. Or perhaps a neighbour was negatively impacted by the tenant in some way. Might that be a liability that a landlord should be concerned about? Or guard against? So to be clear, let's put it this way:


Question---is there an onus on landlords to take reasonable steps to ensure that a tenant is not a threat to another tenant(s) or neighbour(s)? Either in a violent or otherwise harmful way, physical or mental? Could that result in a law suit?


Answer---the possibility exists, the same as the possibility exists that your house might catch fire. You protect yourself against that by buying house insurance. Why then would you not want to minimize liability risk owing to a high risk tenant? Conducting a tenant background check or a tenant screening is a reasonable thing to do. The key word is reasonable, to minimize this kind of risk, landlords and property managers should take reasonable actions to screen tenants who might be a high risk. What are reasonable actions?


  • Request a criminal record search
  • Conduct inquiries with current and previous landlord
  • Conduct inquiries with employer and one or two references.


TIP: High risk tenants use landlords as a revolving line of credit...and everybody else. Chances are that they...


  • Do not have a history of good Rent Payments. So order a credit report to determine same.
  • Do not have steady employment. So inquire with employer to determine income and character.
  • Do not have a good tenant history, check with current and previous landlord to determine good character and was security deposit refunded or will it be?
  • Do not have a bank account that shows regular pay check deposits. Request bank statements to determine same.
  • Do not want to show you two pieces of ID, one of which should be photo ID.
  • Will provide false information on a rental application...and that is why your tenant screening process with ATS is worthwhile doing. ATS will identify your applicant, and will form part of the reasonable tenant background check that you should conduct.