A common scenario that arises when people are in the process of selling their home after purchasing a new residence involves allowing another person to live in one of the homes until the old home sells. The short-term use might include short-term executive housing, a vacation rental, or interim housing for family members. Our Miami-Dade homeowners insurance attorneys recognize that the situation can get complicated and financially risky when the new home is damaged before the new owners take possession. An appellate decision out of another state raises the specter of problems associated with this scenario, especially if the people temporarily residing in the home are paying rent.
In Scura Supreme Insurance Co. v. Johnson, the court reversed summary judgment granted by the trial court because of an issue of material fact regarding whether the person residing in the insured’s home was a “resident of the household” or a “tenant.” This question was critical because the policy defined the “insured as “you and residents of your household.” The O’Briens owned the home and rented it on a short-term basis to a sister and her husband while they were waited for a home sale to be finalized. Dogs belonging to the in-laws living in the home dug under the fence and attacked a neighbor and her dogs.
The dog attack victim sued the O’Briens and their in-laws and filed a separate lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment, indicating the in-laws fell within the category of “insured” individuals under the policy. The neighbor injured in the dog attack contended that the in-laws were members of the household because they paid rent, resided in the O’Briens’ home, and used the address to register their kids for the school district.