Minimising Financial Losses And Legal Problems

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on August 3, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

When can a Landlord be held liable for injuries sustained either by a tenant or visitor on his rental property?

If a tenant or his visitor sustains injuries on his / her rented premises, the landlord is to be held responsible, only if the tenant can prove negligence on part of the landlord caused him / her to get hurt. In order to do so, the tenant must establish:

  1. The accident was foreseeable and the landlord was in a position to prevent it.
  2. Fixing the cause of the injury was not unreasonably expensive.
  3. Carelessness in fixing the problem resulted in serious physical injury.
  4. The landlord did not take adequate steps to prevent the accident from happening
  5. The landlord’s negligent attitude and failure to fix the problem caused the tenant’s accident and led him / her to get seriously hurt.

Take for example, a tenant falling and breaking his ankle while climbing a broken front door step. In such a case, if the tenant can prove he tripped because of the broken steps, the landlord will be held responsible, as:

  1. Front door steps fall in the common area category and it is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain them.
  2. The accident was foreseeable as broken steps are liable to trip anyone climbing them.
  3. Repairing broken steps is easily done and fairly inexpensive.
  4. Broken steps can result in serious injuries and if a landlord fails to repair them, then he is to be held responsible for the consequences.
  5. As long as a tenant has a witness to the fall, he / she can prove they were injured as a result of it. Without witnesses, a landlord can always claim the tenant injured himself / herself elsewhere and is attempting to pin it on the landlord to claim damages.
  6. Proof of injury is required.

In such a case, a tenant may file a personal injury lawsuit for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and other physical suffering, permanent physical disability and disfigurement and emotional distress, including suing for property damage resulting from faulty maintenance or unsafe conditions.

Threat of expensive lawsuits should be enough to motivate landlords to maintain their rental property in excellent condition to avoid such problems. They should:

  1. Clearly set out repair and maintenance responsibilities in the lease or rental agreement.
  2. Prepare a written checklist for inspecting the premises and fixing problems before allowing new tenants to move in.
  3. Tenants should be encouraged to immediately report plumbing, heating, weather-proofing, other defects or safety / security problems, whether in the tenant’s unit or in the common areas, such as, halls, corridors, and parking areas.
    • They should keep written logs of all tenant complaints and repair requests with details as to how and when problems were fixed.
    • All urgent repairs should be handled, as soon as possible. Major inconveniences i.e. plumbing and heating problems should be taken care of within 24-hours. Minor problems can be responded to within 48-hours. Keep the tenants informed as to when, how repairs will be made, including reasons for delays, if any.
    • Give tenants a checklist to report potential overlooked safety hazards or maintenance problems, twice a year. Use the same checklist rental unit inspections, once a year.

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