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Can an apartment manager be sued by a tenant for property or personal injury damages?

Los Angeles, CA |

I managed an apartment building for my elderly parents, and during that time, two units were found to have mold (the leaks that caused the mold occurred before I took over the property management). All mold was immediately remediated and the tenant's possessions professionally cleaned, but they are claiming personal injury. My father has since passed away, and I have inherited his half-interest in the building. The two tenants did not file claims against my parents when my father was alive, nor did they file a claim against his estate. They waited until probate closed, and now are threatening legal action against me directly. Can they sue me, since I was not the owner of the property at the time that the incidents occurred?

Thank you all for your responses. To answer a few of your questions: - The mold was first discovered about 9 months ago when the walls were opened up to replace the tile and drywall. Prior to that, the plumber and tile company had fixed occasional leaks over the prior year, but the mold was unknown until the walls were opened up. - My interest is a joint tenancy with my mother - Both tenants had general notice of my father's probate - My mother has not ben contacted by the tenant's legal representatives, only me - My father has been deceased for about 16 months now

Attorney Answers 4


You may be liable as a successor-in-interest to your father. When you were the building manager, your parents (as your bosses) would have been liable for your alleged action or inaction. Now that you have taken an ownership interest, you may be liable. There may also be an issue as to how long ago the alleged damage occurred.

It also depends on how you hold interest in the building. Is there a corporation or do you simply hold title as a joint tenant with your mother?

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It is unclear from your question how much time has passed since the tenants first became aware of the mold. I don't know what the statute of limitations is in your state but in this state the personal injury claim would be barred if suit was not filed within 2 years after the tenants knew or should have known of the mold problem. Without knowing what the evidence is, it is impossible to say for sure but you should be aware that you could be liable to the tenants (assuming the statute of limitations has not expired) if, while you were managing the apartments, you were negligent in failing to discover and eradicate the mold (that would depend upon the scope of your duties as manager). Even if you were not negligent or susceptible to liability as the apartment manager, you could still be liable on an entirely different theory: as the current owner of the apartments, being your parents' successor in interest. You probably assumed the liabilities of the apartments as well as the assets when you took ownership, in which case you would not be insulated from liability because you did not have an ownership interest at the time of the mold exposure. Your defenses are fact-specific and dependent upon California law so you should have a local attorney advise you in these matters.


The above response is not legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is intended to provide general information only based solely upon the limited information provided by the questioner (the response could differ if pertinent information was omitted from the question). Since laws vary from state to state, the law in the questioner’s jurisdiction may not be the same as the law in the responder’s state. Therefore, the questioner should confer with an attorney in his or her state for a definitive response to the question.

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Dear Sir/Madam:

Your individual liability may be an issue. However, that issue will probably turn on: when the claimants' injuries occurred, If they were given specific or general notice (which can act as a bar to claims) about your father's probate, and how long your father has been deceased ( California Civil Code section 3300 et seq as amended from time to time may act as a bar against any claim/suit that is not filed against a decedent or his estate within one year from the date of the decedent's death).

What seems to missing is whether your mother is still alive and whether she is being sued also.

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They can sue you. The questions is whether they will be successful. It is unclear what they allegedly suffered, but it is not an easy thing to prove. You should contact your liability carrier immediately.

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