Can a Tenant Sue a Landlord for Injury?
Landlord-tenant laws govern rental property, such as business-related and domestic. It is comprised mainly of state statutes and common law. Numerous states have established their statutes on either the Uniform Domestic Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) or the Model Domestic Landlord-Tenant Code. Federal statutes might be further pertinent during moments of national/regional crises and in stopping types of bias.
The foundation of the legitimate affiliation between a landlord and tenant is based in both contract and property law. The tenant possesses a interest in the property in the land for a specified period prior to the interest in the property transferred back to the landlord. Although these four kinds of relationships are usually correct, they are made susceptible to state statutes, in addition to the authentic lease settled on by the landlord and the tenant. The tenancy length is usually categorized in one of four types: term of years tenancy, periodic tenancy, tenancy at will, and tenancy at sufferance.
A property owner owes an obligation to renters and other people who come onto their property. This differs with who comes in and why he or she enters the property. The most common individuals who come onto a landlord’s property are renters. This obligation demands landlords to ensure to inhibit injury to their tenants. Landlords always have at least some obligation to their tenants—an obligation to utilize or establish reasonable care so to avert injuries. Depending on the lease’s terms, the obligation can be made even more effective if the landlord willingly undertook specific maintenance or repair duties past the standard. Though, it is not a complete obligation—landlords do not sustain strict liability, which suggest that they are not deliberately responsible whenever a tenant is injured on the premises. Instead, whether the landlord satisfied their obligation is examined utilizing the negligence standard.
Proving Landlord Negligence
Landlord or property manager negligence is mainly described as a failure to perform timely inspections, repairs, or maintenance in a property and/or building. If a tenant can establish that a landlord or property manager deliberately failed to fulfill his or her rental agreement with his or her tenant, then that person may be liable of negligence. Although, being filing a suit for negligence is dependent on several aspects.
Elements of Negligence
- Duty: All landlords and property managers have an obligation to keep a dwelling fit for human habitation and comfortable for their tenants. This part of a negligence claim is just the legal condition and conduct standard in safeguarding tenants from excessive risk of harm.
- Breach of duty: This element occurs when the individual being taken to court breaches their duty. Regarding landlord negligence, a breach of duty would pertain to any contract or rent infringement. For instance, if a tenant grumbles about a leaking pipe under the sink, and the landlord or property manager has a duty according to the rental lease or contract to repair every leak, the leak needs to be repaired. If a landlord fails to do this, it is a breach of duty on the part of the landlord or property manager.
- Causation: This is when a breach of duty on the landlord or property manager’s part brings about damage to either the tenant or his or her home/property. Regarding the previous example, if the landlord being brought to court for negligence fails to fix the leaking pipe, and the water from the leaking pipe then ruins the floors or other part of the tenant’s property, causation exists in the negligence suit.
- Damages: This is a rather clear element of the suit but can sometimes be the most difficult to establish. This element entails whatever damages the plaintiff pursues against the landlord. Numerous kinds of damages include: compensatory, general, special, nominal, and punitive.
What a Landlord Could Do to Avoid a Negligence Suit
- Property damage is not the only kind of damage that landlords can be brought to court for. If a landlord or property manager does not give an account of questionable activity to their tenants or the police or fails to fix outdoor lights or security features, that individual can possibly be brought to court for negligence—particularly if a burglary takes place.
- Landlords and property managers always must verify that they possess insurance for their property. Not only does a landlord require homeowners’ insurance, but in a few instances he or she will also require landlords’ insurance. This individual must consult state and city laws on if two different policies are necessary.
- A better way to avoid a negligence suit is to fix every tenant property complaint and/or dangerous conditions at the earliest opportunity and to make it a main concern to perform routine inspections. Landlords have an obligation and responsibility to their tenants to make sure that the property is habitable, secure, and danger-free.
Advantages of a Person Bringing His or Her Landlord to Court
- Could Persuade a Landlord to Settle Outside of Court: If an individual notifies his or her landlord of his or her intent to bring him or her to court, this could persuade said landlord to do everything in his or her ability to prevent taking legal action. The landlord might accept settling with the person prior to the matter ever going in front of a judge.
- Get Money He or She is Owed: If an individual sues his or her landlord and wins, he or she will be awarded the money he or she is owned, probably more. For instance, if the person’s landlord illegally refused to give his or her security deposit, that individual will be awarded this amount, and in a few states, two or three times this amount.
- Get Damages: If the person wins a court case against his or her landlord, he might also get damages. For instance, if the individual’s unit was unlivable, he or she could be awarded damages for any pain and suffering it caused him or her.
- Exculpate a Person’s Name: Winning a suit against his or her landlord could assist in clearing the individual’s name. For instance, if the person is evicted, the eviction would appear on his or her credit report for years to come. If the individual could establish that his or her landlord is attempting to illegally evict him or her, then he or she can retain his or her good credit and name.
- Could Remain in His or Her Apartment: If the person sues his or her landlord for a wrongful eviction and wins, he or she will not be compelled to move from his or her apartment.