Stick to the Risk Management Plan, Stan
Property Liability for Not For Profit Organizations
Not for profit organizations are all about community. Volunteers and staff spend countless hours on and off your property contributing to the greater good and the mission of your organization. But it’s important to remember that allowing individuals to inhabit your property exposes you to several liabilities, many of which vary in severity depending on state and local laws. Taking the time to develop an appropriate risk management plan will keep your not for profit protected.
In many cases, and especially if you are receiving public funding, you are responsible for maintaining certain standards of habitability for those staying on your property. It is important to be familiar with all local codes, including fire codes, health codes, tax codes and electrical codes. Requirements may include the following:
- Structurally sound buildings
- Sanitary conditions
- Clean water supply
- Adequate air quality
- Sufficient space and security for each occupant
- Lack of lead-based paint hazards
- A certain number of smoke detectors
If a visitor to your organization’s property suffers harm from unsafe or unhealthy conditions, and subsequently decides to sue you, you could be held negligent and be responsible for damages. As a property owner, you are legally responsible for preventing visitors from being injured or sickened on your property—this is called reasonable care. When someone is injured on your property as a result of your failure to repair or warn him or her about a danger on the property, you are liable for damages. The extent to which you are liable depends on case history in each state.
Protecting your not for profit organization from this exposure could comprise a variety of actions:
- Proper warning – For some hazards, a simple posting can satisfy your legal duty.
- Timely action – If you are able to predict something that could cause sickness or injuries—for example, a bad water heater, a faulty furnace or other hazards—prevent those problems from hurting those staying on your property by fixing problems immediately and maintaining the facility properly.
- Securing the property – Taking precautions against careless or criminal conduct on the part of a third party. This may include hiring security or installing security systems, gates or fences.
Examining your not for profit organization, and determining which preventive measures are appropriate to protect against liability and minimize risk.
For more information on liability, contact a member of the ‘A’ Team!
- Liability E-Book
- Risky Business: Event Planning for Not For Profits
- Protecting Your Organization's Directors and Officers
- 2017 Industry Outlook Video: Not For Profit
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