San Jose, CA asked in Insurance Defense and Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Can a tenant contractually waive Landlord from Landlord liability insurance in California?

The tenant will be subletting out the rooms that she's renting. She also has a separate contract with the Landlord to be their property manager in this case. Would the Landlord still be liable for injuries to sub-tenants and their guests or damages to the property besides usual wear and tear? Said property manager has their own insurance as they run an Airbnb/mid-term rental business. The property manager would thus incur all and any legal cost in case of evictions or sub-tenant legal actions?

I've read that since the sub-tenant leased from the tenant, can the contract between landlord and tenant (subletter) state that landlord has no legal obligations with sub-tenant?

If not, would the landlord's Homeowner Insurance (which covers Liability Insurance Coverage and Medical Payment to Others coverage) be sufficient without the need for a Landlord Liability Insurance?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, while a tenant can agree to certain responsibilities in a lease agreement, a landlord cannot contractually waive all liability, especially in regards to injury or harm that may occur on the property. The landlord maintains certain legal responsibilities for the safety and maintenance of the property, which cannot be fully transferred to a tenant or property manager, even if they are subletting.

Regarding the liability for injuries to sub-tenants and their guests, the primary landlord could still be held liable, particularly for issues related to the condition of the property or negligence. This is true even if the tenant has their own insurance policy. The property manager (or tenant in this case) may also have some level of responsibility, especially if they are managing the property and dealing directly with sub-tenants.

A contract between the landlord and the tenant (who is subletting) can include provisions about responsibilities and liabilities, but it cannot completely absolve the landlord from legal obligations, especially those that are statutory or relate to negligence or unsafe conditions on the property.

Regarding insurance, while the landlord’s homeowner insurance may offer some liability coverage, it might not be sufficient for a property being used for subletting or as an Airbnb/mid-term rental. Landlord liability insurance is often more comprehensive and designed specifically for rental properties. It’s advisable for the landlord to review their insurance policy to ensure it provides adequate coverage for the specific rental arrangement.

In situations like this, where there are complex arrangements involving subletting and property management, it is wise for all parties to seek legal advice to ensure that lease agreements are properly structured and that adequate insurance coverage is in place. This helps protect the interests of all involved – landlord, tenant, property manager, and sub-tenants.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.