If a Habitual Trespasser / Someone Gets Hurt on Your Property, You are Liable and other Unfair Real Estate Laws

One thing that many home and property owners don't realize is that they have a civil duty to provide a "safe environment" for trespassers. No matter how many no trespassing signs, gates, fences, or means you install to let intruders know they are not welcome, it is your duty as the owner of the property to ensure they have a safe place to trespass.

Tort Law states that a trespasser is one who enters on the land of another without the right to do so. A landowner owes no duty to a trespasser except to refrain from injuring him by “willful and wanton” misconduct. You cannot intentionally harm the trespasser. However, there are exceptions to the law which makes the property owner responsible for any damages sustained by the unwelcome if they are injured or have damages due to their own behavior.

Habitual Trespassers

When the property owner knows that a trespasser habitually intrudes on a particular part of the land, or when a trespasser’s presence on the land has actually been discovered by the property owner, most courts will hold the owner to a duty of reasonable care in conducting activities on the premises.

This means that because you are aware that a habitual trespasser continues to violate your property, it is your civic duty to make sure he or she has a safe environment in which to do it. If this person gets injured on your property, even in the process of damaging your property, you will most likely be found liable for his injuries.


Property owners must must "warn" everyone, including trespassers, of traps set on their land. The warnings must be reasonable, so that all may avoid the threat of injury.

Setting traps and devices to protect your property may lead to serious legal liability and is an illegal act. If a person sets up such a trap to protect his property, he will be liable for any injury or death even to an unwanted intruder such as a burglar. This includes setting traps inside your home to harm burglars.

Children and Attractive Nuisances

No matter what precautions you take to secure your yard, pool, yard, trampoline, or any other item in your yard, if a child gets harmed, you are liable. Things like pools and swing sets are considered to be "Attractive Nuisances" and they come with heavily liability should children in your neighborhood get injured on the item, or attempting to get to the item.

The law considers the rights of children under the age of ten differently than an adult's. The law doesn't expect children to fully comprehend the dangers they may face If a property owner has reason to believe that children might come onto their property, the law places a special responsibility on them to prevent harm If an owner fails to meet this responsibility, they will most likely be held liable for the child's injuries. Some common nuisances are:

  • Swimming pools and fountains
  • Your child's yard toys
  • Trampolines
  • Machinery (lawnmowers, gasoline pumps, etc)
  • Wells and tunnels
  • Dangerous animals
  • Interesting yard tools
  • Paths and stairs
  • Rooftops

If you are civilly charged with a child's accident on your property, you may be shown some mercy by the courts if you can prove your property was secure and the items protected. Overall you and your insurance company will be financially responsible for any damages.

Owning property comes with great responsibility and risk. If you have questions about providing trespassers a safe place to trespass, setting booby traps, or attractive nuisances, talk to your insurance agent who specializes in preventing civil procedures.

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Comments 19 comments

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 5 years ago from California

It is an interesting concept, n'est pas? So much of law has to do with policy decisions regarding how to spread the liability for risk--great hub!

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks for reading Audrey. It is a shame that the laws are not geared to protect property owners. The laws in this country are geared to protect trespassers.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Very inspiring hub and I learn many things from you. This was outside my knowledge. So, thank you very much for writing and share with us. Well done and rated up!


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

It is so vital for property owners to understand the law. Thank you for stopping by.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 5 years ago from California

My pleasure---I think you are correct--it is so important to understand that the laws are not always geared as would like---

thejeffriestube profile image

thejeffriestube 5 years ago from United States

For all of us that own homes, this is a very important warning. I'm very cautious about what I alter near the sidewalk and driveway, and put so much motion-activated lighting out there that if someone trips over a rock, they deserve it. Seriously, my front yard looks like a landing strip. :-)

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

That is cool Dave, as long as they aren't booby traps.. lol.. which by the way will get YOU a giant lawsuit. I don't think we should personally be responsible for these things.. but that is the law.. Yoda for president!

Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

I love it Tammy. Great first hub. I would like to send it to the idiot neighbor across the street. He has a fit if anyone touches his lawn. Actually, he's out there picking up individual leafs on the grass too. He also stands there holding the electric cord while his elderly wife uses the leaf blower. Just recently, he put a four foot stake in the ground on the edge of his property right where his neighbor pulls in to their own driveway. No doubt many dogs have done their thing on it already. If his neighbor has someone who parks in the driveway, they would hit this stake when they open their car door. I realize your hub is about unfair laws for the property owner. I can't help thinking that this guy needs a lesson. Great hub!


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you for sharing that Sharyn. It sounds like this man is quite a control freak. I hope no one gets injured on this stake. I am sure it will infuriate him to no end if he ends up being responsible for the potential damages. I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment!

alocsin profile image

alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

Yup, that's what scary about this country. In the Philippines, if someone got hurt playing basketball on a hoop you installed in the cul-de-sac, everyone would just laugh at the injured person and tell him to go home until he was cured. In the US, the injured person would sue you for installing the hoop, the manufacturer of the basketball and the hoop, all the neighbors and all the players. Voting this Up and Useful.

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

This is true Alocsin.. AND they would sue the manufacturer of the hoop even though the product was misued. We live in a sue happy country. Thanks for stopping by!

Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho

In Idaho if you don't shovel your sidewalk when it snows you can be charged a $1,000 fine if someone complains. Ahhh...the quirky intricacies of home ownership. Voted up, useful, and shared.

nybride710 profile image

nybride710 4 years ago from Minnesota

Interesting. I write a lot of website content for lawyers, and even I hadn't heard of all this.

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks for sharing that Jennifer. Real estate is tricky business. Thanks for reading and sharing!

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks for reading nybride710. There are so many aspects of liabitity that home owners are unaware of. It is a sad fact that property owners are liable for tresspassers. Thanks for your visit and comment!

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

Yes, I had to take the basketball net down because the neighborhood children decided to us it even though they didn't have permission. So unfair.

Dawn Conklin profile image

Dawn Conklin 4 years ago from New Jersey, USA

Wow, I never realized that trespassers had more rights then the home owner. The sad part about these laws is that it opens up for scam artists to trespass on somebody's property and purposely getting hurt. This is unfair to a homeowner.

My Aunt and Uncle who have people that cross through their yard often. There are signs everywhere and these people walk right passed the signs. We are there often in the summer and these trespassers will walk passed the signs and walk right through the middle of all of us as we are having a picnic. They will look right at you and walk through like it is a public sidewalk.

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

So frustrating Millionaire Tips!

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

It is a sad situation Dawn. I feel bad for your Aunt and Uncle. Even if someone is successful in getting a habitual trespasser arrested, the case is usually dropped by the court because they are so over booked. It is really hard for homeowners. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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