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  • Writer's pictureLandon Stinson

Can you sue a landlord for personal injury?

Annoying Legal Disclaimer

Our law firm represents injured tenants who are harmed by landlord negligence. You can contact our firm at (352) 415-4571.

This blog should not be considered legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. This blog does not constitute financial or investing advice. I'm writing this article to share a very brief explanation of the duties and protections Landlords owe to Florida tenants.

In Short

Landlords and real estate investors have significant financial exposure in the form of personal injury claims from tenants.

I personally believe landlords should (and often do) have compassion and empathy for their tenants –– leading them to maintain their properties in a safe condition.

But this article is focused mainly on the financial risk landlords face from personal injury lawsuits.


Many people like to invest money into residential rental properties as a way to create passive income and protect their savings from the volatility of the financial markets. From an estate planning perspective, people may even desire to pass on their rental portfolio to future generations via a will or trust.

Popular finance books like Rich Dad Poor Dad by authors Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter have made investing in residential real estate an attractive choice for many aspiring investors.

For example, when discussing the benefits of investing in residential real estate assets the authors of Rich Dad Poor Dad said “I don’t like consumer debt. I actually have liabilities that are higher than 99 percent of the population, but I don’t pay for them. Other people pay for my liabilities. They’re called tenants.”(emphasis added)

“I don’t like consumer debt. I actually have liabilities that are higher than 99 percent of the population, but I don’t pay for them. Other people pay for my liabilities. They’re called tenants.” ― Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not! (emphasis added)

Mr. Kiyosaki is a brilliant author and financial advisor.

The issue is, though, becoming a residential landlord in Florida comes with significant legal duties.

And if a Florida landlord violates their legal duties and a tenant gets hurt –– the landlord could face grave financial exposure well and above their insurance coverage.

Examples of Landlord Injury Claims

From a personal perspective, landlord personal injury claims are important to me.

Our family was harmed by a negligent landlord in Gainesville a few years ago.

Now, I'm a trial lawyer who has secured a $650,000.00 jury verdict against a negligent landlord in a personal injury trial.

Here is a photo of my client and me in the courtroom right after the jury rendered their verdict.

I've also handled many other landlord negligence claims that settled before trial.

I love my job as a trial lawyer. And helping injured tenants is my passion. But I pray that more landlords would be very careful to follow their legal duties so tenants are never harmed, in the first place.

In addition, I have several friends I really admire who are landlords. And there are many, many amazing landlords providing essential services in our community.

I love my job as a trial lawyer and helping injured tenants is my passion. But I pray that more landlords would be more careful to follow their legal duties so tenants are never harmed, in the first place.
In addition, I have several friends I really admire who are landlords. And there are many, many amazing landlords providing essential services in our community.

That being said, Florida landlords are sued for personal injuries all the time.

A few additional examples of landlord personal injury cases include a $1,778,014.48 personal injury verdict against a Miami-Dade County landlord. See Gerald Mooney v. Ray K. Properties, Inc., No. 01-28114 CA 24.

And a $1,000,000.00 verdict against a landlord in Manatee County, Florida. Donald and Susan Gilbert, as Co-Personal Representatives of the Estate of Damon Gilbert, deceased v. Cryptical Development, LLC., a Florida Corporation, No. 41-14-CA-6541-AX.

The Relevant Law

There are numerous Florida laws and court cases establishing a landlord's legal duties to their tenants. It would be impossible to list them all here.

One legal source of a Florida landlord's legal duties is The Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The Landlord Tenant Act is found in Chapter 83, Part II, Florida Statutes.

Section 83.51, Florida Statutes, is a subsection of the Act entitled "Landlord’s obligation to maintain premises."

Section 83.51, Florida Statutes requires landlords to "[c]omply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes; or (b) Where there are no applicable building housing, or health codes, maintain roofs, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working conditions."

As you can see, the Florida Legislature established wide-ranging legal duties for Florida landlords in Section 83.51, Florida Statutes.

But what many people ignore in Section 83.51, Florida Statutes, is subsection "(a) [c]omply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes."

According to subsection (a) of 83.51, therefore, a Florida Landlord's legal duties are not merely cabined to the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act. Landlords must also comply with "applicable building, housing, or health codes."

In other words, Florida politicians have created a legislative petrie dish that allows Landlord's liability to grow well beyond the Act by including other expansive laws by reference into 83.51.

To demonstrate the growth from the 83.51 petrie dish, Florida municipalities like Gainesville and Jacksonville have passed their own "building, housing, or health codes."

The City of Gainesville Property Maintenance Code, Gainesville, Fla., Code of Ordinances ch.13, article II, Sec. 13-17, (56).

Jacksonville Property Safety and Maintenance Code, Jacksonville, Fla., Code of Ordinances ch. 518, Sec. 1.

Even further, there are numerous additional renters' rights laws at the city and county level which create even more legal duties for landlords. For example, the City of Gainesville's recent passing of the Residential Rental Unit Permits law.

And under 768.0425, Florida Statutes, if a landlord conducts unlicensed repairs on their property and a tenant gets hurt, I firmly believe a landlord can be held liable for treble (triple) damages and attorneys fees and costs.

The Landlord Business Model

To put it simply, the common business model for residential landlords is Profit = Revenue - (Fixed Costs + Variable Costs).

In short, the landlord "profits" when their monthly revenue from rent is higher than the combination of their fixed costs (i.e. mortgage payment, property taxes, insurance) and their variable costs (i.e. repairs, maintenance).

The issue we are here to discuss dwells in the landlords' variable costs, which includes repairs and maintenance.

The Issue: Real World Example

The issue with the landlord business model is, however, landlords are often incentivized to cut corners when it comes to maintenance and security to increase profits.

In other words, the more landlords spend on repairs at a rental home the less money they make in profit.

A real world, hypothetical example.

Imagine Larry Landlord purchases a single family rental home for $225,000.00 as an investment property.

Let's say the total monthly costs for Larry's investment home are $1,500.00, including mortgage, insurance, taxes, HOA fees, and other monthly costs.

Larry then rents the home to a family of tenants for $2,000.00 in rent per month.

What will Larry's monthly profit be? All else equal, Larry will profit $500.00 per month.

Larry is happy!

Larry is set to profit $500.00 per month, or $6,000.00 per year from the rental property. And in a few years, Larry will overcome the costs of his down payment and closing costs, leading to a great long-term investment. Woo hoo!

Two months into the lease, however, the tenants complain of mold in the guest bathroom of the home.

Larry then quickly Googles the issue and finds the average costs for mold inspection and remediation is over $1,500.00. Fifteen hundred dollars!

That's three month's profit.

Now Larry faces a choice. Does he sacrifice three month's profit and hire professionals to inspect and remediate the mold –– or does he cut corners?

Unfortunately, Larry chooses to cut corners.

Larry responds to the tenants stating "Hey, please spray some bleach on the mold and scrub it. That should fix it."

Larry and his tenants go back and forth for months about the mold issue, which spreads throughout the house.But Larry still refuses to fix the mold.

A few months later, Larry receives a letter from the tenant's doctor stating one of the tenants is experiencing exacerbations of her asthma from mold in the rental home.

Larry comes out to the home and sprays mold with bleach and cleans it himself, not realizing that mold inspection and remediation is a highly regulated activity in Florida that should be done by licensed professionals.

Eventually the mold grows back and causes the tenant lasting breathing injuries. The tenants move-out.

Larry then gets a letter from the tenant's personal injury lawyer asking for Larry's insurance information.

The tenant sends a settlement demand to Larry's insurance company.

Larry's insurance company refuses to settle the claim.

Eventually, the tenant files a lawsuit.

The case goes to trial and a jury awards the injured tenant $1,250,000.00. One point two five million dollars!

Larry's insurance policy only covered $1,000,000.00. Now Larry is a judgment debtor for $250,000.00 and is pursuing a claim against his insurance company for bad faith.

Larry then declares bankruptcy and is experiencing an enormous amount of stress and anxiety about the entire process.

Years ago, Larry could have simply paid to have the mold in his rental home properly inspected and remediated.

It would have cost him approximately $1,500.00, or three months' profit.

Now, Larry has a judgment against him for $1,250,000.00 and has spent countless hours over the past three years in depositions and at trial.


In conclusion, personal injury claims from tenants pose a significant financial risk to Florida landlords. And Florida landlords should take special care to properly maintain their rental properties in accordance with Florida law.

We are here to listen, empathize, and provide a case evaluation from a lawyer.

The information disclosed in this conversation does not constitute, nor create a lawyer-client relationship. Please do not reveal confidential information. 

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