Landlord liability

Question from john updated on 13th March 2017:

My question is about landlords' legal liability. My rental has a ceiling fan. What if the fan falls on the tenant resulting in death or injury? Am I liable and if I have landlord insurance is my liability limited to the amount of compensation as set out in the policy?



Our expert Myles Noble responded:

Any such injury or death will be a personal injury by accident covered by ACC in the usual way. The statute bar in the ACC legislation will stop the victim or his/her estate suing the landlord civilly (except for exemplary damages but eligibility for these is unlikely).

From the information given I am unsure whether the Health and Safety at Work Act applies in this situation. It probably doesn’t if the premises are residential because the occupant is not at work. It could apply to commercial premises where the occupants are at work. If it does apply, a prosecution against the landlord is a possibility, leading to a reparation sentence topping up the victim's ACC benefits.

Liability at law is set by the law and not by the sum insured in a liability policy. It is important to set a sum insured that is likely to be sufficient to cover any liability exposure arising from the circumstances that apply.

Myles Noble is head of claims and earthquake response for Crombie Lockwood. He also holds various advisory board positions in the insurance industry.

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