Does a landlord have any liability if his guest assaulted a tenant?

by Mike
(Monterey, California)

A friend was staying at my house and was there alone. My tenant from a trailer on our property came over to my house and asked my guest a question. Upon leaving, my tenant claimed my guest assaulted him. My tenant went to the ER and called the police. There were no witnesses to the assault. The police interviewed both parties and took no further action.

Can my tenant sue me for his $13,000 hospital bill? I guess I'm asking what is a landlord's liability for a 3rd party assault on a tenant, when the 3rd party is the landlords guest? My guest has no convictions for assault or violent behavior on his record. This happened in California.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Does a landlord have any liability if his guest assaulted a tenant?":

Mike (Monterey, California):

You may be in luck. If your neighbor had slipped and fallen you would probably be liable. However, unless you had anything to do with the assault, or you knew your guest had a history of violence, you will not be liable for his criminal actions.

Under California law your guest is considered a "licensee." Homeowners are not normally responsible, or liable for the criminal acts of their licensees. Regardless of criminal intent, its important to contact your homeowners insurance company immediately. If the neighbor decides to pursue a lawsuit, your homeowners insurance will provide you with legal representation.

In the interim, you can go to the police station and purchase a copy of the police report. The cost should be under $10.00 dollars. Send a copy of the police report to your homeowners insurance company.

Also speak with your guest and take his written statement. It doesn't have to be notarized or in affidavit form. Make sure he signs and dates it. Send the statement to your homeowners insurance company.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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