Residents of The Villages frequently ask the same question regarding renting their house: “Can I provide my golf cart for use while renting my house?” My answer is generally a resounding “WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU DO THAT?”
The problem created by the above scenario is related to potential liability under the doctrine of vicarious liability in Florida. Basically, the owner of a golf cart is liable for the negligence of a user of their golf cart on their premises -- provided the golf cart is used with the owner’s consent. The case law that supports this theory is the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Meister v. Fisher, 462 So.2d 1071 (Fla.1984).
Therefore, by providing a golf cart for the renters of your house in The Villages, you are most likely on the hook for the negligent act of any knucklehead who decides to use it -- as long as the user has your consent as owner or implied consent to use it from the renter of your house or anyone in possession of your golf cart. With a reported 21 deaths in golf cart crashes and incidents in the last 10 years in The Villages alone, the risk of serious bodily injury or worse; and the potential financial devastation that a lawsuit against you as owner of the golf cart could cause seriously outweighs the upside of maybe renting your house for a few more dollars.
People then frequently ask “what happens if the renter agrees to be liable for any damages that occur-- will that fix the problem?” Again, the answer is probably not what you would want to hear. A third party who is injured by a golf cart is not bound by the house renter/golf cart user’s written agreement to be responsible for all damages and/or to indemnify the golf cart owner. Simply put, the golf cart owner is likely to be sued if serious injuries or worse result. My advice is to store your golf cart when you are away and provide a list of reputable golf cart rental companies to your home’s potential renter. There is no need for you to incur the risk -- your peace of mind in your golden years is much more valuable!
Know The Risks, Contact a Attorney in The Villages Today
If you are considering renting your property and have questions about the risks you could face, you should consult with an experienced lawyer right away. Our firm has been handling premises liability and personal injury matters in The Villages since 2005, and we have represented clients more than 100 golf cart accident cases.