Trick-or-Treating is a fun night of costumes and candies. What you may not have considered is that as a homeowner, you do have a level of responsibility for the guests on your property (yes, trick-or-treaters are considered guests, keep reading). So, to save you some worrying we thought we’d put together some information about liability and what to consider before you turn on that porch light and start passing out those treats.
Are Trick-Or-Treaters Guests?
In short, yes. If your porch light is turned on during Trick-Or-Treating, that is considered an invitation. Which makes Trick-Or-Treaters your guests, and means you have a level of responsibility for their safety on your property. Should your porch light be turned off, that is translated as not offering an invitation, making any Trick-Or-Treater that comes onto your property a trespasser.
Premises Liability & Trick-Or-Treating
As a property owner, you have a responsibility to create a reasonable and safe environment for guests. And if a guest is injured on your property due to your inability to provide that safe environment, you may be deemed responsible. However, it’s not that clear cut, there are a couple of things that need to be a part of the incident to constitute liability; actual damages, and negligent conduct being the reason for an injury.
It could be as simple as your Halloween decorations malfunctioning and hurting a guest, or even a simple trip and fall due to uneven pavement (that you should have fixed when you used our fall checklist to prepare your house for fall and winter). Ultimately, you are responsible for providing appropriate warnings for any dangers, or hazardous areas, of your property and/or taking actions to amend any and all risks possible (like that uneven pavement we just talked about).
What About Dogs?
We love our furry friends but Halloween can be a tough night for Fido. From spooky decorations to masks and costumes, there is a lot happening that is not normal and for many dogs, their threshold for the unknown can be reached quickly, causing even a mild-mannered dog to act abnormally. As the property owner and dog owner, you are responsible for the actions of your pet. Because of that, we recommend making your pets comfortably safe in a room away from where you will be handing out treats, with some soft music, or sounds to drown out any unexpected noises, and don’t forget to provide snacks and water as well. Ultimately, for the team at ZYYAH, it is not worth the risk of what could go wrong if your pet is startled.
Can Tricks Cause Problems?
Halloween means TRICKS and treats. If you love to set the mood on your property with scary decorations and lighting there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly be aware of the area around where you plan on scaring the guests on your property. For example, don’t set up a ‘jump scare’ (find an example of a classic candy bowl jump scare at the 13:45 mark) at the top of steps, should your guest fall backward down the steps when. Secondly, be aware of the materials and/or props used to scare your guests. Avoid anything that is sharp, hard, or could generally cause harm. Finally, it’s spooky season, so don’t be afraid to have some fun, just make sure that you are aware of how your trick will be experienced by someone that is not familiar with your property.
Some Things To Think Of Before Trick-Or-Treating
- Are there any cracks or uneven pavement or steps that I need to address?
- Is my property lit well enough to navigate easily?
- Are my walkways clear of debris?
- Is there anything on my lawn, the garden or near my walkways that could harm my guests?
- If I scaring Trick-Or-Treaters is the area safe and is my ‘scare plan’ reasonable?
- Remember that Trick-Or-Treaters are not familiar with your property, it is worth walking through your property with that in mind to identify and potential issues.
Taking a few extra minutes in your preparation to ensure that your guests are safe and that you can enjoy handing out treats without any concerns. Leaving you to raid your candy bowl, or your child’s loot, with some peace of mind.