Am I legally responsible for what my roommates do? 22 Answers as of May 30, 2013

Am I legally responsible for what my roommates do? I own the house and a few people will be renting rooms from me in the near future. If they do something illegal I.E. sell drugs or get drunk at the house then drive, all without my knowledge or consent, am I legally liable for anything that happens? Thank you in advance.

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Fidelity National Title Insurance Company
Fidelity National Title Insurance Company | Andrew Capelli
You may be legally responsible for crimes or other bad acts that occur in property you own. If your housemate is dealing drugs from your home, you may be responsible under statutes involving owning or running a "drug den." Your home might also be subject to seizure under federal laws. If your housemate gets drunk and leaves without your knowledge, however, you (in most cases) would not be liable because residences are not generally subject to the same rules as bars ("dramshop" laws). If you ply your housemate with alcohol and send him or her on his way, though, you may be legally negligent. No matter what, carefully screen your roommates and ask your insurance agent about policies you might purchase to offset monetary risks. Good luck!
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/18/2012
Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
You could be responsible for anything that happens in your house that involves drugs- whether it is usage in the house, possession in the house or anything else that occurs in the house, and your house could be at risk for forfeiture if there is any sale or manufacture or growing of drugs in or at the house. You could be charged criminally if drugs or drug paraphernalia was found in the house since you own the house and have access to any rooms in the house, you would be considered to be in possession of anything that might be found in the house. You would not be liable for any DUI that occurred just because your roommates got drunk at the house and drove- unless they are under age and you provided them with the alcohol and/or knew that they were driving after they got drunk- then there is a possibility that you might have some liability- but it would be remote.
Answer Applies to: Idaho
Replied: 5/18/2012
Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
No.
Answer Applies to: Arkansas
Replied: 5/30/2013
Dunnings Law Firm
Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
Yes, as owner, you are responsible for the conduct of your housemates.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/17/2012
Law Offices of Maxwell Charles Livingston
Law Offices of Maxwell Charles Livingston | Maxwell C Livingston
Well, you shouldn't be according to the law.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 5/17/2012
    The Gardner Law Firm, PLC | Brandon Gardner
    As a landlord you're not responsible for "anything that happens." However, you are responsible to make sure that your tenants are following local laws and ordinances and, if they are not, you should evict them. If you fail to do that, you can be charged civilly or criminally, depending on the infraction.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/17/2012
    Strawder & Loewenstein P.C. | Lance Loewenstein
    You are really asking two questions here, with two very different answers. Generally speaking, landlords are not vicariously liable for the criminal activities of their tenants. If your tenant goes for a drive after drinking too much, that is not your risk to bear unless you personally served him. However, there are some instances where you incur risk as a landlord for the criminal acts of your tenants if those acts involve your property. Your home could be considered a "nuisance" property if it was found to be a nexis of criminal activity. Some statutes call for *forfeiture* of property that is considered an instrumentality of the drug trade. This is why you should have language in your lease that allows you, as the landlord, to cancel the lease for any reason with 30 days notice, and language that allows you to cancel the lease without notice if certain drug distribution thresholds are met - such as arrests, police responses, etc. This is not legal advice - it is intended to point you in the right direction. Every new landlord should have an attorney craft a lease that protects his her or rights and also provide guidance on the process required in local housing court to evict and regain possession of the property when, not if, a tenant defaults.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 5/17/2012
    Mosley, Engelman & Jones, LLP
    Mosley, Engelman & Jones, LLP | Britany M. Engelman
    Generally, adults are responsible for their own actions and you will not be held responsible for the negligence or intentional acts of another. However, as the homeowner, it would be prudent to have a clause in your rental contract which prohibits your renter from conducting any business out of the unit, engaging in any illegal activity on your property and indemnifying you from any liability for his or her actions both intentional and negligent. You should consult with an attorney re: having an iron-clad clad rental agreement drafted.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/17/2012
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Probably not. As long as you don't furnish anything or condone illegal a activities.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/17/2012
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski | Gerald A. Bagazinski
    In broad general terms the answer is yes. Anything that happens on the property is your responsibility. If they sell drugs your property could be subject to drug forfeiture laws. If they create a nuisance with their partying, you are the property owner and you will get the ticket.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/17/2012
    Sultan Law Office | Gregory Sultan
    Maybe- If illegal activity goes on in the house, you can be held responsible and for things like selling drugs, risk losing the house. At the very least you should update your insurance if you are now using the property for rental.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/17/2012
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    If you also live in the house, you could also be charged if the police find drugs or something else illegal in the house. In such cases, the police often charge everyone who lives there and let the courts sort it out later.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/17/2012
    Sean O'Connor | Sean O'Connor
    The best way to protect yourself is with a written lease agreement that specifies the rules and regulations your tenants will be expected to obey. A standard lease agreement with a 'rules and regulations' section will demand that tenants obey all local, state and federal laws and regulations and that not doing so may result in a breach of the lease agreement and their eviction. If you have knowledge of illegal or potentially harmful actitivies by your tenants, that could impose some degree of liability upon you. Another thought is to require your tenants to carry renters insurance and be sure that it includes liability insurance.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/17/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    In most instances, you would not be liable unless you knew or should have known, ie there were circumstances you should have investigated but chose to ignore. To avoid problems, treat this as a business and have rental agreements and rules of conduct with all of your tenants. You should consult a real estate attorney to assist you in preparing the appropriate documents.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/17/2012
    Richard J. Keyes Attorney at Law | Richard J. Keyes
    You may be responsible for some of the actions of your roommates. If they sell drugs out of the house, you could be liable for running a drug house. The fact is not that you did not know about it but that drugs are being sold in real estate owned by you. If they get drunk at the house and then drive without your knowledge, normally you would not be liable. However, if they did this consistently with your knowledge, you may have some liability. Have your roommates agree to a list of rules and regulations. Make it as detailed as possible. Ask them to carry renter's insurance and get a certificate of insurance in regard to their coverage. Make sure you also have insurance and discuss the insurance coverage with your insurance agent.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 5/17/2012
    Park Law Offices LLC | Kevin Parks
    That's an incredibly broad question with no clear-cut answer. You cannot be liable for anything and everything they may do no matter what, but you certainly may well have some liability depending on their actions (or inactions, as the case may be.) The owner-occupier of a premises always has certain liabilities, both to the residents of the house itself and possibly to other third-parties. Answering with any specificity is simply impossible, however, without all the facts. If you're considering becoming a landlord, especially for the first time, you should contact an attorney to advise you on the laws and procedures of Oregon landlord-tenant law, as well as on the proper form and extent of insurance you should maintain.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/16/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    No, but your lease should state that such activity is grounds for eviction.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/16/2012
    Gordon F. Gault PC | Gordon F Gault
    You may be if you know what they are doing and it is illegal.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/16/2012
    Poole & Poole, P.A. | Wesley R. Poole
    Generally speaking, no, you are not liable for your roommates. However, if you, as owner of the house, knowingly allow illegal drugs or activity in the house, you can be held responsible.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/16/2012
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    If you are going to willingly rent parts of your house to people that you believe will sell drugs, or commit other crimes...well, you are an idiot. I can think of many serious problems you will suffer if you do this.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 5/16/2012
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    What you need is a good landlord / tenant attorney to draft up the lease and terms. You should also do a complete background check on the individuals you are renting to and do not rent to ANYONE who does not have a great credit score and a job. This way, you will avoid all the problems you are worried about.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/16/2012
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