Rental Laws: 4 Instances a Landlord Is Liable for Tenant InjuryJanuary 27th, 2010 by Staff Writer
Rental laws hold landlords responsible for crime and injury to tenants they could have prevented. If a landlord is negligent in their responsibilities, he can be held liable for any injuries suffered by his tenants. The tenant must prove, among many things, that it was the landlord’s negligence that caused the injury and that there was pain and suffering. The tenant has to actually suffer damages in order for the landlord to be held liable. Here are 4 instances a landlord is liable for tenant injuries:
1. Fellow Tenants
Rental laws require landlords to protect tenants from fellow tenants. For example, if a landlord is made aware of one tenant conducting illegal activities on the premises, and the landlord doesn’t act to evict the tenant, the landlord can be liable for any resultant injuries suffered by other tenants. A typical problem is when one tenant sells drugs in, from or near their apartment. They sell to thieves that come on the premises to buy the drugs, and rob fellow tenants. In worse cases, fellow tenants are assaulted and the landlord can be liable for those criminal acts.
2. Broken Steps
A typical instance in which landlords are held liable for tenant injury is neglecting to fix broken steps. A tenant breaks an ankle, or worse, while walking on broken front door steps. The tenant notified the landlord about the problem prior, in writing, but the landlord fails to fix it. Rental laws protects the tenants, as long as they can provide proof of notification and the landlord’s negligence. The landlord must pay for any medical bills, and in some cases, they must pay punitive damages for their negligence. If the tenant is not really hurt by the fall on the broken steps, then the landlord is rarely held liable. The tenant must prove that they suffered a genuine injury.
3. Winter Related Injuries
The landlord must ensure that the premises are safe to walk to and from the apartment. However, some landlords neglect this responsibility in the winter time, when driveways and walkways become icy. Rental laws require the landlord to make these areas safe when it snows, unless waived by the tenant in the lease agreement. For example, if there’s a snow storm, the landlord is responsible for shoveling and salting stairways, driveways and walkways so that the tenant doesn’t slip and fall. They can hire a professional snow removal service company or do it themselves. A landlord can be held liable for neglecting this duty if a tenant gets hurt as a result of not getting this done.
4. Lead Poisoning
Landlords cannot knowingly rent apartment units with lead. When signing a lease agreement, rental laws typically require the landlord to inform the tenant of any lead-based paint on the premises. Federal laws require landlords to give tenants a pamphlet titled, “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home.” An alternative to this pamphlet is a state-approved version. If a tenant gets sick from lead, the landlord can be held liable.
Each state has it’s own rental laws, and therefore it’s important to learn your state’s ordinances and statues regarding injuries suffered by tenants. If a lawsuit is inevitable, then it’s best to contact a attorney who specializes in landlord and tenant law.