If you’re like most people, you already know that property owners have a legal duty to maintain safe premises. Of course, a landlord not living on site can’t reasonably be expected to know immediately when something needs repair or maintenance. Therefore, whether a property owner should have known about a hazardous condition on his or her property becomes an important question if someone is injured on the property.
Take for example, a person who fell on some stairs in an unlit hallway of an apartment building. Whether the injured person lives in the building is immaterial. Other factors, such as how long the light had been malfunctioning and whether the property owner was made aware of the condition, would determine whether the landlord would be liable for damages.
A Property Owner’s Legal Duty
The law holds property owners accountable for proper maintenance of rental properties. This includes the dwelling as well as any common areas, including the building’s exterior and grounds. Within reason, property owners must promptly repair any safety hazard that exists within a rental unit or common areas. Poor lighting is a clearly unsafe condition; however, it’s unreasonable to expect a property owner to know that a light bulb has burned out immediately after it happens.
In the above example, if the light illuminating the hallway had recently burned out, it may not be reasonable to expect that the property owner would have known about the condition. If it had been several days, particularly if a tenant had called, emailed or written to complain about the lighting, that’s a different set of circumstances.
If it can be reasonably assumed that a property owner knew, or should have known, of the unsafe condition, that demonstrates negligence. The law holds a negligent property owner accountable for any injury or other harm that happened because of unsafe conditions on their premises.
Have you been injured on someone’s property and aren’t sure if you have a case? Let us know—we’ll evaluate your case free of charge and let you know your options. Call us at 1-800-842-8462 (1-800-Victim2). Don’t be a victim twice.