When Is a Landlord Liable for a Tenant's Injury?

A landlord is liable for a tenant’s injury when he acts negligently. For example, a landlord may have acted negligently by failing to fix the railing on a staircase or potholes in a driveway.

To prove the landlord's negligence, the tenant must show that:

  • The landlord could have fixed the dangerous condition but did not
  • Fixing the problem wouldn't have been expensive or difficult
  • The failure to repair the dangerous condition caused the injury
  • The resulting injury was serious and probable

Is a Landlord Responsible for the Safety of the Entire Property?

Historically, landlords were not liable for the premises’ safety. However, modern laws hold the landlord liable for most areas of the property:

  • Common Areas: Maintaining safety in common areas (such as hallways, stairways, etc.) with reasonable care and without negligence.
  • Latent Defects: Warning tenants about concealed, dangerous conditions that the landlord knew or should have known about at the time the lease was entered into.
  • Negligent Repairs: Completing repairs without negligence and within a reasonable time unless the tenant has undertaken to complete such repairs.
  • Public Use: When property is available for public use, the landlord may be liable for injuries due to dangers or defects.
  • Furnished Dwellings: Leasing out furnished dwellings for a short period of time (such as three months or less) makes landlord liable for any defects on the property, even if landlord did not know about the defect. Therefore, landlord has a duty to inspect the premises the premises for defects.

When Is a Landlord Vicariously Liable for a Tenant’s Actions?

A landlord’s liability for the wrongful actions of tenants or third parties is limited. Liability will often depend upon local laws. Generally, a landlord may still be liable for a tenants’ or a third parties’ acts on the premises in the following situations:

  • When nuisance occurs on the lease premises. Therefore, the landlord should not permit nuisance to take place.
  • When the landlord fails to control the common areas. Therefore, the landlord should be careful to control and maintain safety in such areas.

What Kind of Damages Can a Tenant Sue a Landlord For?

A tenant can sue his landlord for:

  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Earnings
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Disability or Disfigurement
  • Emotional Distress
  • Property Damage

What Can a Landlord Do to Minimize Liability?

A landlord should maintain the premises he is responsible for to avoid any problems that might result in liability. He should also keep accurate records of all repairs and tenant complaints, take care of all urgent repairs as soon as possible, and run regular quality checks on all the residences.

What Are the Landlord's Responsibilities for Possible Lead Poisoning?

If the rental property is built prior to 1978:

  • A landlord must give every tenant the EPA pamphlet, "Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home," or a state-approved version of this pamphlet
  • Both the landlord and tenant must sign an EPA-approved disclosure form proving that the landlord told the tenants about any known lead-based paint or hazards on the premises
  • These disclosure forms should be kept for three years from the date that the tenancy begins
  • Penalties of up to $10,000 for non-compliance with EPA regulations

Should I Consult a Lawyer about Landlord Liability?

Landlord-tenant law is very complicated and constantly undergoing changes. An experienced landlord-tenant attorney can help you identify the law that applies to your landlord-tenant relationship and represent you in court. A landlord-tenant law can also estimate your damages and help you file the necessary paperwork.



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