When you first get a place of your very own, chances are it will be far from the ideal place to live. Walk-ups, old apartment buildings, and the like are usually cheap, ideal for tight budgets. Unfortunately, many of these affordable residences for rent exist in some state of disrepair, and this can develop into dangerous property conditions.
Some of the situations that may render a particular building risky to live in include:
- Faulty wiring
- Uneven flooring
- Cracks in the foundation
- Leaky pipes
- Defective light fixtures
- Lack of usable fire escapes
- Defective elevators
- Old lead-based paint
- Worn and broken steps
Any of these situations can lead to slip and falls, electrical fires, structural collapse or toxic exposure. Tenants may tolerate these dangerous property conditions, but that does not mean that the owner or landlord of the building is exempt from liability for any personal injury or property damage that may result.
Landlord liability is based on the premise that lessees of a property are entitled to a reasonable expectation of safety and security. In other words, a property owner that willingly accepts payment for occupancy has a duty of care towards these tenants. Under general tort law the property owner is liable for any injury or damage to a tenant directly caused by dangerous property conditions that the landlord knew or should have known about but failed to take action.
For example, if a tenant reported to the landlord that smoke was coming out of one of the wall sockets, the duty of care should prompt the landlord to investigate the source of the smoke, which may indicate faulty wiring. If the landlord fails to act and a fire breaks out, the owner will be liable for the property damage as well as any injuries or death that occurs to the tenants of the building.
If you are injured due to dangerous property conditions, consult with a premises liability lawyer. An experienced attorney would be able to assess the merits of your case and if you are eligible to recover damages from the property owner.