Is a landlord liable for domestic abuse on his rental property?
John: I’m a landlord. The police just called me about 45 minutes ago about a domestic disturbance at one of my rental units.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay.
John: How do I evict someone for domestic violence and disturbances? Should the landlord give the tenant a 7 day notice to cure for domestic violence and disturbances?
Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey John, I think that this is absolutely fascinating. I want to talk about it some more detail. John, by the way, is your lease with both of the man and the woman or just one of the parties?
John: No, both.
Attorney Tom Olsen: I’m going to turn this over to Rob Solomon, he is our landlord-tenant attorney. Rob, this is a hot topic these days. What do you think about this situation?
Attorney Rob Solomon: I've never heard, as an individual event, that a landlord would have the right to evict somebody for domestic abuse or violence. I find it hard to imagine that the landlord would be able to do an eviction based on domestic violence and disturbances. Frankly, I’ve not heard of an eviction based just on a singular event. This landlord is right that a 7 day notice to cure is going to be difficult. Although, I think you could construct one that you have to not have any further incidents that you have to be -- cure notice is a way of telling somebody “Stop the behavior, doing, because it’s in violation of the terms of the lease.” A lease does have an implicit understanding that you will not be doing things that bring the police in or causing crimes.
I don’t have any doubt about that, but I do think it would take a cure notice that’s well drafted. And then I think you’d be pursuing it, but I don’t think the court’s going to enforce it against the victim. And then they are on the lease. I think you wisely ask the question “Who is on this lease?” I don’t think you’re going to be able to evict that person, because they are an innocent victim in this. My guess is, people that are having this kind of trouble might very well be behind in their rent or doing other things that might ultimately lead to an eviction. I certainly would be considering very carefully whether or not I would ever renew the lease. If it’s a month to month lease, you don’t have to worry about a cure notice. You can simply give notice that their month to month tenancy is being terminated. So you need to think in larger strategies than simply “Would this be the subject in and of itself an eviction?”