When the person who is living in a home or apartment is the owner of that house or apartment, liability in the event of an accident is typically cut and dry; property owners are liable for injuries that occur on their properties if an unreasonable hazard was present.
However, when renters are involved, premises liability is more complex. The following considers whether or not an occupant can ever be held responsible for injuries on the property:
When the Landlord is Liable
It is a landlord’s responsibility to maintain a property in a reasonably safe condition. Therefore, an owner may be held responsible if all of the following are true.
- He or she fails to take action to keep the property in a safe condition
- Does not correct a known problem or hazard promptly (or at all)
- A failure to correct a hazard is the direct cause of another’s accident and injury
Common areas, stairs, floors, and walkways are all areas for which landlords are typically responsible.
For example, owners are usually responsible for snow and ice removal on a property (unless otherwise dictated by a leasing agreement). If snow and ice has been on the property for an unreasonable amount of time (most areas require snow and ice removal within 24 hours or less of collecting), and a tenant slips on the ice/snow and sustains an injury, then the landlord will likely be held liable.
When the Renter is Liable
A landlord is not always responsible for accidents that occur on the property; a renter may be held liable in certain circumstances. A common tenant/landlord premises liability dispute involves the tenant’s belongings. Typically, courts hold that a tenant is liable for injuries on the property that involve moveable things.
So, if a renter (or another person) tripped over a renter’s object within an apartment, then the renter may be held liable, not the landlord. Tenants/Renters are usually only responsible for the part of the property that they are renting out, not common areas (like staircases, yards, etc.).
I’m not sure who’s liable, what should I do?
A premises liability attorney can help you learn more about premises liability laws, and can provide you with more information about theories of responsibility and against whom to pursue a claim.
At Cordisco & Saile LLC, our attorneys are ready to meet with you to discuss your claim and help you get to the root of liability for your injury today. To learn more or to schedule a free case consultation, call us at 215-642-2335 at your earliest convenience.