Hosting a house party or gathering is a favourite pastime for many Australians. But, it’s important to know your responsibilities ahead of the special event, because property owners and/or occupiers can be held liable for injuries on their property.
Am I liable if a kid gets hurt on my property?
When someone visits private property such as a house or apartment, it’s reasonable of them to expect to not be hurt or seriously injured. Property owners and occupiers have a responsibility, called a duty of care, to ensure the safety of people they reasonably foresee visiting. Owners and occupiers will only be liable if they breach this duty.
What duty of care do I owe to visitors?
There’s a difference in the duty of care owed by property owners and occupiers.
A property owner, or landlord, should ensure their property is free of any defects that create a risk of harm e.g. construction defects such as faulty wiring, an unstable balcony or dangerous steps.
Property owners must also ensure any necessary maintenance or repairs are carried out to avoid a risk of injury to both themselves and guests. If there are areas of the property undergoing maintenance or repair, the owner should sign the area and warn of any risk of injury. You should speak to a lawyer for information as landlord duties may differ depending on your specific state or territory.
Occupiers, who may be the property owner or the tenant, also have a responsibility to ensure the property is safe and hazard-free. For example, not leave any dangerous objects lying around that could create a tripping hazard. At minimum, an occupier must warn a visitor of any hazards on their property to avoid a risk of injury.
Have I breached my duty of care to visitors?
Generally, a property owner or occupier will have breached their duty of care in circumstances where the injury sustained is caused by their negligence i.e. their failure to take steps to ensure the safety of their visitor. Whether there was a breach of duty of care will depend on the facts of each case – you should speak to a lawyer for advice specific to your circumstances.
Australian house party laws and regulations
When hosting a house party, you should comply with the relevant law. A failure to do so could expose your visitors to dangers, which you in turn could be liable for should anyone get hurt.
As mentioned above, as a property owner or occupier, you have a duty of care to ensure the safety of your guest and must avoid exposing them to a risk of injury.
At a minimum make sure to check:
- Maintain a guest list and check who is entering your property. Uninvited guests (gate crashers) can easily ruin your night.
- Register your event with local police. This allows them to contact you by phone with any voice complaints, as well as be on hand should you need help.
- Have an emergency contact list. Failing to respond to an injury or fire could seriously harm your guests and your property.
Teenage parties with alcohol
Teenagers may want to drink alcohol at your event. The legal drinking age in Australia is 18, however laws differ between states on drinking on private property.
If you allow visitors over the age of 18 to drink on your property, monitor how much they’ve had to drink as well as any signs their health may be at risk. If someone is intoxicated, having had too much alcohol, do not supply them with more and if necessary, call emergency services if you are concerned about their health.
Does homeowner's insurance cover if someone gets hurt on your property?
If someone is injured in your home, they may take legal action against you to cover the cost of their injuries. These claims can often be quite substantial depending upon the type of injury sustained and loss that the injury causes.
Home and contents insurance often provides insurance for injuries sustained on private property. This is also referred to as public liability insurance. Each policy of insurance will vary in terms of the coverage and exemptions so it is important that you check your policy to see what you are covered for. Some rental agreements will include insurance, however, this is not always the case and some agreements put the onus on the renter to take out their own policy of insurance. If you aren’t covered by insurance you will be personally responsible for paying compensation to the injured person out of your own pocket.
Has someone you know been hurt at a house party?
We can advise you on your rights and entitlements, including medical expenses and payment for lost wages. All our public liability services are offered on with a No Win No Fee Guarantee*.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 10, 2020.