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Who is responsible when a tenant damages a neighbor's property?

Discussion in 'Accidents, Injuries, Negligence' started by Paul T., May 28, 2020.

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  1. Paul T.

    Paul T. Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    A homeowner lives next to a property that is rented out to tenants in Methuen, MA. The tenants were mowing their lawn when they hit a rock and caused it to hit the homeowner's window, which broke. The homeowner immediately spoke to the tenants, and they admitted to breaking it. In this situation, would the tenant's landlord's homeowners insurance cover the cost of the neighbor's window, or would the tenants have to pay for it? Would this also depend on whether the tenants have renters insurance? Thank you.
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Liability isn't based on the insurance coverage(s) present. In the situation you describe, it sounds like the any liability there may be would be the tenant's.

    EDIT: Upon rereading this, I can see that I botched my second sentence. zddoodah's post below explains what I was trying to say quite well. In essence, liability, if it exists, would likely be on the tenant.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
  3. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Having or not having insurance doesn't change who is liable for something. In your case, the tenant did the damage and would be the at-fault party.
     
  4. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    No. The landlord's insurance would only provide coverage in the event of negligence by the landlord.


    The tenant (singular) who was operating the lawnmower would only be obligated to pay if the window broke because of negligent operation of the mower. Liability does not exist solely because the damage happened as a result of something the tenant was doing. Factual causation is only one element of negligence. In order for the tenant to be liable, his operation or maintenance of the lawnmower would have to have fallen below the standard of care of a reasonable person. Since it is impossible to completely prevent rocks from being kicked up by lawnmowers, there needs to be something more.


    Liability is never dependent on the existence of insurance. As with the landlord's insurance, a renter's insurance policy would provide coverage only if the damage resulted from negligence by the insured.
     
    Zigner likes this.

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