When you rent a condo, apartment, or home in New York, you expect the property to be safe. If you’re injured due to negligent conduct by a landlord, you may have the right to sue for damages.
Tenants can file personal injury lawsuits against landlords for damages including lost earnings, medical bills and emotional distress. In addition, tenants can sue for damage to their property resulting from a landlord’s neglect of the duties that come with residential rental property ownership.
Responsibilities of Landlords
Landlords typically are responsible for keeping rental properties in good repair and safe condition for the tenants who live there. In most cases, landlords are responsible for maintaining all common areas, including staircases, hallways and outdoor sidewalks on the property.
In addition, landlords usually are expected to warn tenants about any dangerous conditions when they are aware of such conditions, including when the dangers are hidden. Landlords must complete any needed maintenance or repairs within reasonable time frames.
When Do Landlords Have Legal Liability?
For a landlord to be legally responsible for an injury, the landlord must have acted negligently in maintaining the property. In addition, a plaintiff would have to demonstrate to a court that the landlord’s negligence caused or significantly contributed to the injury.
Certain elements must be proven to successfully sue a landlord for negligence. First, the plaintiff must establish that the landlord owned the property in question and had responsibility for maintaining and caring for the portion of the property that caused the plaintiff’s injury.
The plaintiff also must show that the landlord did not take reasonable actions that could have prevented the accident and that correcting the problem — or sufficiently warning the plaintiff about it — would not have been extremely difficult.
In addition, the plaintiff must establish that neglect or negligence by the landlord caused the injury and that the tenant did suffer a real injury.
Moreover, the plaintiff must show that the landlord knew about, or should have known about, a dangerous condition that caused plaintiff’s injury, prior to the happening of the injury. This is legally known as “actual notice” or “constructive notice.”
For example, a tenant who falls and suffers a head injury due to a broken step in a staircase might be able to sue and win damages from the landlord. The tenant would need to prove that the landlord had legal responsibility for maintenance of the steps and failed to act reasonably in that required maintenance.
In addition, the tenant would have to show that repairs to the steps would have been simple and inexpensive, that a serious injury was a foreseeable consequence of failing to make the repair, and that an actual injury resulted from the negligence.
Landlords also typically bear at least partial responsibility for acts committed by a third party on property owned by the landlord. For example, a landlord might have some liability for injuries due to an assault that occurred in a common area with poor lighting or a broken lock that allowed an assailant to enter.
How to Prove Landlord Negligence
The legal principle of negligence holds landlords responsible for harm their actions cause to others, even if the harm was unintentional. If you file a lawsuit against your landlord, you will need to show that the landlord failed to uphold the duty owed to you and that you were hurt as a consequence.
The law holds landlords to a duty known as the standard of care, which refers to the level of caution or attention a reasonable person would use in the same situation. If you were injured because your landlord failed to meet the standard of care, a court may find that the landlord was negligent — and, therefore, liable for your injuries.
Work with Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys
If you have been injured due to the negligence of a landlord, it’s important to work with a highly experienced legal team to protect your rights and secure the compensation to which you’re entitled. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond have extensive experience in assisting tenants who have suffered injuries. To schedule a consultation, please contact us.