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Landlord's homeowners insurance and implied warranty of habitability.

San Diego, CA |

If a landlord is negligent or even reckless in his duty to monitor and maintain rental premises habitable and the landlord is sued by a tenant, does the lanlord's homeowner's insurance company have a duty to defend the landlord or otherwise pay the tenant?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. It would depend on the terms of any applicable policy and the facts asserted. If I were representing a landlord, I would certainly tender defense of any claim to the landlord's carrier.

    The answer is: it depends. Residential and commercial policies universally contain terms which would exclude coverage for claims based upon mere habitability, especially those that relate to failure to repair and maintain the premises, which have not resulted in any non-economic injury.

    However, the duty to defend is broader than the duty to indemnify. There are many claims that could be made against an owner of real property which may relate to habitability which not only required defense by the carrier but also indemnification.

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference

  2. The insurance carrier's duty to defend depends upon a number of factors, most importanly, the terms of the policy and the claims being asserted. If the tenant's complaint alleges a cause of action for negligence causing bodily injury to the tenant, most likely, the insurance carrier would have the duty to defend and indemnify. If the tenant's complaint only includes causes of action for breach of contract or causes of action for intentional torts, the insurance carrier would not have a duty to defend.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

  3. As Messrs. Daymude and Chen imply, no law prohibits an insurance company from covering the claim.

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