Semantically, the word ‘liability’ comes from a place of responsibility, you can only be responsible for what you are liable for. Ideally, the landlord owes the tenant a duty to deliver the property in a good and habitable form devoid of any potential hazards that might seem injurious to the tenant. The question for emphasis here will then be, is he also responsible for when the tenant slips and falls. In this discourse, we’d be analyzing scenarios where a landlord might be culpable for slip and fall injuries.
When will a Landlord be Liable for Slips and Falls?
Slip and fall injuries come in different forms, it can happen in the bathroom, the stairs, or in other external and internal parts of the house. There are cases where balconies are not protected or railings are too short and people have fallen over. A landlord will be liable when they don’t ensure that the common areas in the property are not kept in a safe condition. A failure to ensure the structure is up to building standards in the area exposes the landlord to liability when there is a slip and fall.
Ordinarily, slip and fall injuries do not become the landlord’s responsibility unless the landlord has failed to provide an adequate environment or he has failed to prevent the condition leading to the fall. They will also be held responsible in a situation where they know or should have reasonably foreseen that some common areas on their property were potentially dangerous. This is where the concept of duty of care comes in. As a landlord, they owe their tenants a duty of care to present the house in a habitable condition.
Chapter 83 of the 2020 Florida Statutes lists a landlord’s liability to include the following:
- Comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes.
- In the absence of applicable health and building codes, maintain the roofs, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working condition.
The Courts have also imposed a duty on the landlord to mitigate tenants’ exposure to foreseeable criminal attacks. This duty requires a continuous evaluation of the scope of the duty and also the environment in which the building is located whether there have been previous crimes or the environment has a high crime rate. It should be noted that the statute excludes them from liability when it comes to mobile homes or other structures owned by the tenant.
Reasonable or Foreseeable Knowledge
Another important aspect of proving slip and fall is the assumption that the landlord should have reasonable or foreseeable knowledge of the incident.
For instance, if a tenant is injured while using creaking and shaky stairs, the landlord will be held liable for reasonable knowledge. Another example is if you have a leaking roof that allows you to slip, the landlord will be liable. If the damage to the property occurred while you were in possession and there was no way by which the landlord would have known of the leak, no duty of care will be imputed to them in this situation. A duty of care arises after you’ve notified them of the defect and the landlord neglected to fix it thereby leading to your injury. This is when the landlord may be held liable.
Should you fall victim to a landlord’s negligence, it’s important to show that there were no contributory factors on your end, such as intoxication. Intoxication doesn’t exclude liability but may affect the award of damages granted by the court. You should also be careful to document evidence relating to the accident by taking photos of the accident scene, the clothes you were wearing, and other information about the accident.
Should you suffer any slip and fall injuries, talk to the Law Offices of Leonard J. Valdes to know what rights you may have.