It’s the responsibility of the owner of a rental property to keep the premises reasonably safe for tenants and their guests. This means your landlord must take whatever steps are necessary to maintain the premises in such a way as to prevent foreseeable harm. Foreseeability can be a key element if a renter needs to file a personal injury claim against the property owner.
If you, as a renter, are injured on the property you’re renting, you may be able to collect compensation for your injuries—under certain circumstances. To determine whether you may have a claim worth pursuing, ask yourself two things:
Was My Landlord Negligent?
The first element in any personal injury case is negligence. A property owner may be negligent in his or her duty if the landlord knew, or should have known, that some defect or condition on the property is a safety hazard. This can include such things as:
- Broken handrails on stairs
- Uneven floors; loose or torn carpeting
- Exposed wiring
- Walkways covered in ice/snow that isn’t removed within a reasonable length of time
- Inadequate lighting in corridors, stairs or parking areas
These are just some examples. Any condition that a reasonable person can foresee as potentially causing harm may fall under the heading of landlord negligence, particularly if the landlord has been informed of the hazard.
Did the Negligence Cause My Injury?
While landlord negligence is certainly undesirable, it’s not enough to make a strong personal injury case. You’ll have to demonstrate that the negligence caused your injuries. An unsafe condition and an injury are not enough without establishing that one caused the other.
For example, if unsafe, exposed wiring exists in the hallway and you injured yourself falling on the stairs, the two are unrelated. The exposed wiring is unsafe, and the property owner may very well be negligent in allowing that condition to exist. However, unless you tripped on the wires or the unsafe wiring caused the lights to go out, it’s not likely that the landlord’s negligence actually caused your fall.
In short, if a landlord’s negligence caused your injuries, you may have a strong claim against the property owner for damages.