Comparative And Contributory Fault
Even when a landlord’s behavior meets all the elements of negligence, sometimes the tenant’s own behavior also plays a role in causing the injury.
Even when a landlord’s behavior meets all the elements of negligence, sometimes the tenant’s own behavior also plays a role in causing the injury. For example, if the tripping tenant fell when his untied shoe lace got caught in the part of the step that was sticking up, a court could find that he was negligent in not tying his shoes and is partially to blame for his own injuries.
In situations where tenants are partially to blame for their injuries, courts use one either a comparative or contributory fault approach to allocate liability:
- Comparative fault. The court assigns a percentage of responsibility to each party. For example, a court might assign 55% of fault to the tripping tenant and 45% to the landlord if it finds that the tenant’s untied shoelaces contributed to his injuries more than the landlord’s improper repairs. This allocation can drastically affect the tenant’s potential monetary award: When the tenant’s responsibility is greater than the landlord’s, some courts won’t order any monetary award to the tenant. Most courts, however, order a proportionate award.
- Contributory fault. When the court finds that the tenant’s actions contributed in any wayeven just one percentto the injuries, it assigns all liability to the tenant and won’t order the landlord to pay any money. Very few courts use this harsh rule.
What Makes A Valid Lease Agreement
You should know your local state laws before you sign any lease document. This way, you ensure that the terms are valid and legal for all the parties in that specific state.
In most states, a valid lease document needs to have the following legal requirements:
- Type of property.
- Contact information of all the parties involved, including the information of each occupant.
- Beginning and expiration date of the lease.
- Rent amount, due date, and late fees.
- “Holding Over” conditions and penalties.
Does A Landlord Liability Exemption Clause In A Lease Apply To Third Parties Who Are Injured On The Property
It depends on the situation. In some states, such as California, Illinois, Indiana, and New York, a liability exemption clause in a lease does not apply to anyone but the tenant. Even if a lease has an exemption clause, a landlord can still be held liable for injuries to third parties on the property.
Imagine that A signs a lease for an apartment complex with a faulty stairway. In the lease, A agrees not to hold B liable for any injuries caused by the faulty stairs. Suppose A invites C to her apartment, and the stairway collapses as she walks down it. Regardless of As agreement with B, C can still hold B accountable for her injuries.
The liability exemption clause signed by a tenant can, however, also be applied to third parties in states such as Georgia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Despite not having signed the lease, third parties injured on the property cannot sue the landlord.
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What Are The Tenants Responsibilities
You should encourage your tenants to promptly inform you of any defects. This notice allows you a reasonable time to make any necessary repairs.
Determining what a reasonable standard of care is may depend on characteristics of the tenant. For example, if a tenant is not fluent in English, and they are injured by a property defect, a landlord may be liable for the injury even if there were signs in English warning of the hazard.
Can An Injured Tenant Claim Compensation From A Landlord
A landlord will be liable for a tenants injury if the tenants solicitor can prove that the injury was caused by the landlords actions or negligence. A landlord may also be liable if the tenants injury is related to a statutory duty that the landlord failed to fulfill.
The tenants solicitor must prove that the landlord knew, or should have known, about the property defect that led to the injury or illness.
If the landlord was unaware of a defect, and there was no way the landlord could reasonably have been aware, the landlord is not likely to be liable.
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Maintenance To Mitigate Risks
Conditional in this sense means the landlord has, as per the lease agreement, undertaken maintenance and repair of the property, which play a role in mitigating risks. Van Breda provides an example. A safety railing up the stairs of a double storey house has not been properly maintained and gives way when a tenant leans against it. The landlord could be held liable for loss or injury if found that he/she has not undertaken regular maintenance to ensure that railing components such as wood, metal bolts or screws, that weaken over time, have not been replaced or repaired when needed.
Two scenarios now present themselves. If the tenant is injured or suffers a loss, it may open the landlord up to damages liability, but there is no obligation to open a criminal case. However, should a death occur due to a lack of maintenance an inquest docket will be opened by the police, and investigation will follow, says van Breda. In such circumstances, a landlord could be found liable for negligence that resulted in the death of the tenant, and the state will then institute criminal proceedings.
Each property and its circumstances require tailormade clauses. Examples that require specific attention can be anything from a home having a pool, a thatch roof, a jungle gym, or an electric fence. And for each of these variables, there may be specific maintenance requirements placed on the landlord.
Contact Us To Find Out How We Can Help
If you have sustained injuries in Los Angeles as a result of a premises liability accident, our expertLos Angeles premises liability attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Contact us today by calling 927-3700 or filling out our quick contact form to schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal team.
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Top 27 Lease Agreement Clauses To Protect Landlords
Renting a residential property may involve some risks that all the parties involved should be aware of. Whenever a renting process is arranged, the most appropriate way to go is with a Lease Agreement. In this agreement, the landlord specifies all the terms for renting their property to the tenant these terms should be written with the landlord’s best interest in mind and in a way that they’re easily understood.
One critical part of any lease agreement document is understanding each clause clearly. This way, landlords can avoid misunderstandings and any legal issues with the tenant. To make this process easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of all the landlord and tenant lease clause definitions that you should know before drafting a lease agreement document.
Keep in mind that lease clauses for landlords may vary depending on the different state laws, the area you live in, the type of property you’re renting, and many other factors. If you have any specific doubts about drafting your lease agreement document, your best option is to talk to a trusted real estate lawyer.
When Do Landlord Lawsuits Arise
Any negligence towards a responsibility can lead to complaints and disputes. But at what point could a lawsuit arise? Here are some situations that could lead to escalations:
- When landlords commit wrongful acts that are against legal statutes or the lease agreement
- When their negligence causes dire consequences such as injury or death within premises and
- Destruction/loss of tenant property.
This leads us to our next section, which talks more about what landlord liabilities could look like.
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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 to minimize their risk of being sued for a tenants injuries in a personal injury claim. It is the landlords responsibility to maintain areas of the rental property that they are responsible for, including the living and common areas.
It is the landlords responsibility to make repairs properly and quickly. The landlord should also enforce all lease terms and post signs detailing the rules for common areas such as pools and gyms.
Maintaining maintenance and repair records is also important for a landlord. If a lawsuit occurs, this may reduce the landlords liability.
Slips Trips And Falls
Loose or uneven floorboards, badly fitting or worn carpets or vinyl flooring can be trip hazards. Poorly maintained bannister rails and staircases are also potentially dangerous.
In the garden or other outside spaces, poor lighting, uneven and loose paving slabs or badly maintained steps may be unsafe.
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Are You Using The Correct Lease
We have written extensively about how important your lease is to your success as a landlord. It is the most important document you have as a landlord and regular attention to its contents will prove beneficial and profitable over your landlording career. But, there is one topic concerning leases that I stumbled across in the context of a summary process case that I thought was worth highlighting here in the Advocate using the correct lease.
While this will mostly apply to those of you who have tenants participating in various different entitlement programs throughout your property, even those of you who manage only one type of program should read on. Well address your risks later in this article.
Heres the scene. You manage a building with tax credit units. Thus, you have some market tenants, some tax credit tenants, some public housing tenants, and you probably have some Section 8 tenants as well. You have one lease the one you very prudently invested lots of time and money into when you were managing that strictly market property three years ago. Excellent decision to invest in your lease. All landlords should follow your lead. Now, you make the command decision that you will use that brilliantly drafted lease at the new property and you start leasing units.
Pause. Heres where other landlords may want to press pause.
Landlords Health And Safety Responsibilities
Property tenants are protected by common law. Common law describes the implied terms of a tenancy agreement that require a property to be safe for tenants or visitors to use.
In addition, there are strict rules set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. These rules take precedence over any contradictory clauses in a tenancy agreement. Under the Act, the landlord is responsible for ensuring the property is fit for human habitation and properly maintained, both inside and out.
The landlords responsibilities include ensuring the property:
- is safe to live in and in a reasonable state of repair
- is able to withstand normal use by tenants and visitors
- can withstand normal weather conditions
- is free from damp and well-ventilated
There are other health and safety regulations that landlords must follow, such as a requirement to fit working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
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Liability For Tenant Injuries And Insurance For Landlords
Created by FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors| Last updated March 04, 2020
Landlord-tenant laws are different in every state. They also differ in different municipalities. Additionally, you may have duties coming from the lease and rental agreements. We address some common tenant concerns related to liability for tenant injuries below. For the laws specific to your state, see our state-by-state listing.
Who Is Liable For A Tenants Safety On A Property Landlord Tenant Or Agent
The tragic case heard in the North West Division of the High Court in April, whereby a landlord of a holiday chalet was found liable for damages to a family who lost their child to a freak flood while holidaying on his property, is a strong reminder to all landlords to relook their lease agreements and consult with legal experts to ensure they are as protected as they can be under the law.
Protected as they can be is a crucially key statement because although a lease agreement will include certain indemnities, there is no blanket indemnity that can completely absolve a landlord of all liability should an injury or death manifest. Common law obligations may often come into play, which dictates that landlords have certain obligations that can never be completely avoided.
To clarify this is Andre van Breda, Senior Associate at Minde Schapiro & Smith Incorporated.
The basic principle is that a landlord has a duty to deliver and maintain a property in a condition that is reasonably fit for the purpose for which it has been let.
“This includes that a lessee is not exposed to unnecessary risk to life and safety.
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Criminal Housing Matters Housing Is Not Just A Civil Matter
At the 12th Annual CONN-NAHRO Convention & Exhibition held this year at Mohegan Sun, Judith Dicine, Supervisory Assistant States Attorney gave a terrific presentation about criminal housing matters and enforcement of fire, building, zoning, and health and housing codes. CONN-NAHRO is the abbreviation for a landlord organization called the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, which primarily consists of housing authorities, subsidized housing, tax credit, and other affordable housing providers, both for profit and non-profit. This group of experienced housing professionals gathers annually for education sessions and updates covering all areas of housing provision and management, including lobbying at, and legislation from, the state and federal governments.
Reflecting upon and taking from a long career years in private practice in landlord-tenant matters and twenty years as a housing prosecutor), Ms. Dicine reminded the audience that:
- Housing is not just a civil matter and
- Housing-related criminal law and codes apply to landlords and tenants.
Here were some of the key points of Ms. Dicines presentation:
Landlord Liability Mistakes Related To Tenant/guest Injury
The more the landlord is involved with the maintenance or upkeep of the rental property , the more that they are prone to liabilities for injuries within premises.
Assuming the landlord has such responsibilities , landlord liability could arise from situations such as the following:
- A poorly maintained garden walkway causes an elderly guest to trip, fall, and sustain an injury.
- A poorly repaired ceiling collapses, causing injury to the tenant below.
- A badly lit outdoor staircase of a commercial rental property causes a customer to trip and sustain an injury.
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If A Tenant Or Visitor Is Injured On Property Owned By A Landlord Is The Landlord Liable For The Injuries
Landlords have a duty to:
- Properly maintain common areas
- Warn of hidden dangers which they are aware of
- Make safe furnished dwellings on short term leases
A landlord is only liable for the injuries of renters and visitors in circumstances where the landlord’s negligence has caused the injuries in the above cases. Additionally, this negligence must be the direct cause of the injury.
For example, let’s say there is a broken step on the front stairwell of your apartment, so you use a properly functioning back stairwell that is well lit. You fall and injure yourself. The landlord’s negligence may not be deemed to be the direct cause of your injuries and the landlord might not be liable for damages. It’s a much clearer case if you injure yourself while trying to use the broken front stairwell.
For landlord liability to attach, the following must be proven:
- The landlord had a duty to fix the dangerous condition and breached his duty by not fixing it in a reasonable amount of time. For example, a broken step would not be required to be fixed in just an hour.
- Fixing the problem wouldn’t have been unreasonably expensive or difficult
- The cause of the injury was the failure to repair the dangerous condition
- The damage that resulted was serious and probable
- The landlord’s negligence directly caused the injury
Under What Circumstances May An Owner Or Occupier Be Liable
The Occupiers Property Act governs premises liability for a broad range of establishments and owners. Business owners are held to the highest standard of care to keep the people and/or public that enter their properties safe. If someone is injured on a commercial property such as a store or restaurant, owners who do not have a reasonable procedure in place for inspecting and fixing unsafe conditions may be found liable for any accidents and injuries that occur.
These are common unsafe situations where occupiers may be held liable if someone comes to harm on their premises.
- Failing to clean up a spill in reasonable time.
- Failing to salt, sand or remove ice on their driveway or walkway.
- Failing to clean up debris or put away objects that present a foreseeable danger.
- Uneven walking services that a reasonable person would not have anticipated.
- Infrastructure, such as stairways or walkways, that is in a poor state of repair and/or inadequately maintained.
- Hazards for which there were no warnings or clear signage.
- Failure to inspect premises for hazards.
- Inadequate lighting.
- Providing alcohol to individuals, resulting in injury that should have been foreseeable.
- Drowning hazards of which a user was not warned.
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