What is Liability?
In law, liable means “responsible or answerable in law; legally obligated.” Legal liability concerns both civil law and criminal law and can arise from various areas of law, such as contracts, torts, taxes, or fines given by government agencies. The claimant is the one who seeks to establish, or prove, liability.
How can I be liable?
Whenever you enter into a contract, whether implied or explicit, you are responsible for certain obligation under that contract.
As a tenant, you enter into an agreement to lease a property. Within that contract, there are obligations that you, the tenant, are responsible for. Your obligations, typically, are to maintain the property in a sanitary and clean manner. You also have the obligation to report any maintenance issues. If damage occurs due to your own carelessness, you are responsible to repair the damage.
How to protect yourself from undue liability.
Step 1: When you sign your lease agreement, be sure to read the entire document. In Ontario, there is a standardized lease agreement. This document was created by the government to standardize the language written into the agreement. Most landlords and property management companies have created attachments to the contract. If this is the case, be sure to carefully read them before entering into the lease agreement.
Step 2: Communicate with your landlord. Let them know of any repair issues as soon as you become aware of them. I recommend doing this through email and keeping a copy as a paper trail if issues ever arise.
Step 3: Respect the home you are living in. If you break something, tell the landlord what happened and how you intend to repair the issue. Be responsible for your actions.
While many of the strategies seem commonplace, ignoring them causes more headaches than it’s worth.
Remember, you have agreed to terms and conditions that outline the use of the property.
Knowing how you are liable is vital, because it’s important that you know things too.