Yes, in some cases, a landlord may be held liable for a tenant’s injuries. A landlord is someone who owns property which is rented to another individual, called a tenant. A landlord has several duties with regards to property that they are renting to tenants.
A landlord has a legal duty to ensure that their rental property is safe and habitable. If the landlord fails to keep a rental property and its surrounding premises in good condition by making necessary repairs, and a tenant is injured as a result, the landlord may be found liable for injuries a tenant sustains as a result.
These situations may occur when the landlord does not repair property structures such as:
- Damaged steps;
- Leaking roofs; and
- Unstable floorboards.
These issues may cause a tenant to be injured by injuries such as:
- A broken ankle;
- Asthma from growing mold; or
- Cuts from nails or splinters.
In some situations, lead paint may also cause a tenant serious injuries which a landlord may be liable for. A tenant can sue a landlord for injury, known as a personal injury lawsuit.
In order to prove landlord negligence, the tenant must show that their landlord was negligent by failing to provide a safe and habitable rental property.
A tenant may be able to show that their landlord was negligent by providing evidence in their personal injury claim. This may include evidence that the landlord was aware of a dangerous condition in the apartment but did not fix or repair the condition and that dangerous condition caused the tenant to be injured which could have been prevented if the landlord had made the proper repairs.
If a tenant needs to file a personal injury claim against their landlord, they must show that the landlord was negligent by failing to provide a safe and habitable rental property. A personal injury claim that involves landlord liability falls under the theory of premises liability. Similar to other types of personal injury cases, the elements of negligence generally apply.
If a tenant has to file a personal injury against a landlord, they must show that the landlord was negligent by failure to provide a safe and habitable rental property. Personal injury claims which involve landlord liability fall under the legal theory of premises liability. Similar to other personal injury cases, the elements of negligence often apply.
How Do You Prove Negligence?
There are four elements that must be proven in order to recover for negligence. These include:
- Causation; and
A duty is the responsibility which one individual owes to another. Generally, individuals in their daily lives owe other individuals a duty of reasonable care, which is the care an ordinary and prudent individual would exercise in the same situation.
A breach occurs when the individual’s care falls below the level that is required by their duty. For example, a landlord that does not make a repair in a timely manner falls below their level of duty.
The breach of the duty must be the cause of the injury. The legal test for causation is somewhat complex, but basically the test is that but for one of the parties’ actions, the injury would not have occurred.
There must also be some type of harm that occurred. The type of injury may vary, and can include:
- Property damage;
- Injury to the individual;
- Emotional distress; and
- Lost wages.
Each of the previously discussed elements must be present in order to prove negligence. If one of the elements cannot be shown, negligence cannot be established.
Is a Landlord Responsible for the Safety of Tenants on the Entire Rental Property?
The specific duties of landlords vary by state. However, a landlord may be responsible for the safety of their tenants on the property outside of the rental. A landlord may have a duty of care to repair and maintain common areas, or areas shared by tenants, which may include:
- Parking areas;
- Laundry or storage facilities; and
In these common areas, a landlord has a responsibility to warn tenants of any dangerous conditions which are present but not obvious to the tenant, such as a loose brick on a walkway or a malfunctioning washing machine in the laundry room. A landlord may also be responsible for injuries in the common areas if the landlord made a negligent or faulty repair which resulted in a tenant’s injury.
When is a Landlord Liable for Another Tenant’s Actions?
A landlord may be held liable if the actions of one tenant cause an injury to another tenant. These situations are typically limited to a landlord’s failure to enforce the provisions of the lease.
For example, if a rental property is supposed to be pet free and a tenant is permitted to keep a vicious dog despite complaints from other tenants, the landlord may be held liable for any injuries resulting from a dog bite to another tenant or child.
A landlord may also be held liable for the actions of a tenant in common areas. A landlord should take care to keep common areas including gyms, pools, and lawns safe from dangerous behavior which may lead to injuries to other tenants.
What Types of Damages Can an Injured Tenant Sue a Landlord Over?
A tenant that is injured may be able to recover damages for a variety of expenses in a personal injury claim. A successful personal injury claim will compensate an injured tenant for the expenses that result from their injuries, including:
- Medical bills;
- Physical therapy treatment;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of future income;
- Pain and suffering;
- Property damage; and
- Emotional distress, including any expenses associated with the treatment of anxiety and depression.
In the majority of personal injury claims, the more severe the injury, the higher the compensation award.
What Can a Landlord Do to Minimize their Liability for Being Sued in a Personal Injury Claim?
There are several steps that a landlord can take in order to minimize their risk of being sued for a tenant’s injuries in a personal injury claim. A landlord should take the necessary steps to maintain areas of the rental property which they are responsible for, including the living areas as well as the common areas.
A landlord should make repairs properly and quickly. A landlord should also enforce any and all lease terms for all tenants as well as post signs outlining the rules for common areas such as pools and gyms.
It is also important for a landlord to keep maintenance and repair records which show the steps taken. This may help reduce the landlord’s liability in the event of a lawsuit.
Should I Contact a Lawyer About a Landlord’s Liability to Their Tenant?
Yes, it is very important to have the assistance of a landlord-tenant attorney if you have any landlord-tenant liability issues. If you have been injured at your rental property, either in your living area or in a common area, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your landlord.
Landlord-tenant personal injury lawsuits may be complex. Because of this, it is in your best interest to have the assistance of an attorney.
Your attorney can review your case, file your lawsuit, and represent you any time you have to appear in court. Your attorney will help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
If you are a landlord that has been sued for a tenant’s injury, it is essential to have an attorney on your side. Your attorney can assist you in providing evidence to the court showing why you may not be liable for the injuries the tenant sustained.