The law requires landlords of apartments, townhomes, rented homes, and duplexes to meet a very strict legal duty to keep their property habitable and free of dangerous conditions. When a landlord fails to carry out regular inspections and make timely repairs of his property, he’s negligent.
When his negligence results in injuries, the landlord breaches (violates) his legal duty of care (obligation). As a result he becomes responsible, or liable, for damages. Damages include the injured person’s medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses for medications, crutches, etc., lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The question then becomes how to prove the landlord was negligent and therefore liable for your damages. To succeed in your apartment building insurance claim, the law says you have a legal burden of proof. To prove your landlord was negligent requires evidence.
You have to show:
1. Your landlord was aware, or should have been aware of the dangerous condition existing in your apartment, townhome, duplex, or in the common area of the complex.
2. A prudent (careful) landlord knows, or should know, the dangerous condition could result in injuries to you, your family members, or visitors.
3. The landlord failed to take reasonable steps to correct the dangerous condition or to prevent you and others from exposure to it. This is true even during the time repairs are underway.
4. The landlord’s negligence in failing to inspect and correct the dangerous condition was the direct and proximate (legally acceptable) cause of your injuries.
Your landlord has an implied obligation to make regular inspections of your apartment complex common area. You don’t have a legal duty to formally notify the landlord of the dangerous condition. It’s not your responsibility to make inspections of the property and send written notices to the landlord every time you find a dangerous condition.
The law doesn’t require you to act as a property inspector, making sure the grounds are safe. The law says the negligence is attributable to the landlord if he fails to make regular inspections of his property to guard against dangerous conditions.
Example: Failing to Repair a Water Leak
It’s the middle of winter. A sprinkler head in your complex broke weeks ago. Each day, water leaks all over the sidewalk, making it dangerously icy. While coming home one evening, you slipped and fell, breaking your arm.
In this case, that you never notified the landlord about the broken sprinkler head doesn’t matter. The landlord was negligent in not inspecting the sprinkler heads regularly.
Example: Neglecting to Repair a Dangerous Shower Door
The shower door in your rented townhome broke a while ago. It tends to swing open when you get in and out of the shower. It won’t stay closed because the latch is broken. On several occasions, while drying yourself, the shower door has smacked into your leg, scraping it.
The landlord knew of the broken shower door latch because you called him several times, sent him several emails, and wrote several letters asking him to make the necessary repairs. All your requests to repair the latch went unanswered. One day the shower door swung open. This time the lower portion of the shower door cut into your leg causing a gaping wound.
Although your landlord had a duty to make regular inspections of the property, it didn’t include entering your apartment on a regular basis to inspect for dangerous conditions. That’s impractical and an invasion of your privacy. For the law to find the landlord negligent, and therefore liable for your injuries, you must have expressly notified him of the danger your broken shower door posed.
In this case, the landlord was clearly aware of the shower door because you called him several times, sent him several emails, and wrote several letters to him. Your letters, emails, etc. established express notice to the landlord of the dangerous condition inside your apartment. You also gave the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make repairs.
The landlord’s negligence in failing to repair your shower door was a breach of his duty of care to you. The faulty shower door was the direct and proximate cause of your injury. Therefore the landlord is liable for your damages.
Have you been injured on a rented property in Southern Illinois? You may have a case. Call Womick Law Firm today to find out more about landlord liability and what we can do for you!
Information from Injury Claim Coach
Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice. Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.