When Is a Landlord Responsible for Injuries?
As a renter, you are likely to face potentially dangerous situations, depending on how attentive your landlord is to the needs of the building in question. In some cases, those who become injured on apartment or rental home premises have legal rights to pursue a judgement of damages against their negligent landlord. These damages can help to recover for medical expenses, pain and suffering, time off work and other losses.
However, it is important to consult with an experienced team of premises liability attorneys before you file a claim against your landlord. A successful premises liability lawsuit involves intricate statutes that your lawyer can help you maneuver through.
What Is a Landlord’s Responsibility to Tenants?
Landlords have a clear and unquestioned duty to keep their premises safe for residents and visitors. If a hazardous situation arises, they also have the duty to provide adequate warning about potential risks and to fix the issue in a timely manner.
Keep in mind that since the apartment or rental house is your own place of residence, your landlord cannot be held responsible for everything that goes wrong in your unit. They can only be held accountable if they committed some form of negligence, and breached their “duty of care” towards you as the tenant.
Duty of Care Responsibilities:
- Complying with all state and local health and building codes
- Maintaining structural components and a reasonably weather-protected unit
- Providing the necessary heat, electric, and hot and cold water facilities
- Making any requested repairs promptly
- Ensuring that living conditions are peaceful and quiet
- Maintaining a “pest-free” environment
- Inspecting the property each time it is leased to determine adequate living standards
- Giving notice before entering a rental unit, except in cases of emergency
- Abiding by all stipulations in a lease agreement
- Allowing 15 days written notice of any changes to a month-to-month agreement
- Adhering to the legal eviction process if evicting a tenant
When Is a Landlord Responsible for Injuries?
When a tenant is injured on the landlord’s property, whether in the tenant’s unit or in a common area, it doesn’t automatically follow that the landlord is liable for the injuries. A landlord is only responsible for injuries that are caused by the landlord’s failure to exercise reasonable care and the injuries suffered must be foreseeable.
The foreseeability test asks whether a reasonable landlord should have foreseen that a tenant could be injured by the landlord’s action or inaction. If, on the other hand, the landlord can prove that the tenant’s intentional or reckless conduct caused the injury, then it’s unlikely that a court would find that the landlord was negligent.
A landlord can be liable for a tenant’s physical injuries that result from the landlord’s failure to adequately maintain the property or make repairs. For example, if a stairway has a defective handrail and a tenant falls on the stairs and is injured as a result, a court might find the landlord liable for the tenant’s injuries, provided that the landlord had notice of the problem and a reasonable time to fix it.
A landlord can also be liable for damages caused by the criminal acts of others on the rental premises if the criminal acts were reasonably foreseeable. For example, a court might hold a landlord liable for a tenant injured in the rental’s unlit parking lot if the landlord knew of criminal activity occurring in the property’s unlit parking lot, but didn’t take reasonable measures to deter the activity (such as putting in lighting). As another example, a court might find a landlord liable if the landlord denied a tenant’s request to change the locks on the unit, but the landlord denied the request and the tenant was harmed during a break-in that could have been prevented by new locks.
When Do I Have a Case?
Because landlords do have these core duties to their tenants, it may seem like a simple matter to show that they were negligent. However, in practice, it can take a lot to prove negligence in court. When determining if you have a case, your attorney will need to thoroughly investigate the specific circumstances that led to your injuries and gather appropriate evidence.
Here’s what your lawyer will have to show in order to succeed with a premises liability case:
Your landlord had a duty of care to correct the problem
Your landlord had enough time to fix the problem, and it was not unreasonably expensive or hard for them to do so
Your landlord breached this duty and acted in a negligent manner
Your landlord could have easily foreseen that someone could be seriously injured because of their negligence
Your injuries were directly caused by their failure to fix the problem
At the Law Offices of Brent A. Duque, we maintain a staff of a highly professional, knowledgeable, aggressive and successful Premises Liability Attorneys who represent injured people through our offices all across Southern California. Contact us today at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.