If you or someone else slips and falls on a property you are renting, are you able to hold the landlord liable for injuries that occur? This depends on the circumstances — where and why you fell will determine who is at fault.
Inside the property
In most cases, you are going to be responsible for any slips or falls that occur inside your property, as the tenant assumes responsibility for day-to-day upkeep. A trip or fall over a toy, a torn piece of carpet or a spill on the ground would all be the responsibility of the tenant, and therefore the landlord would not be liable.
There are rare circumstances in which one could hold the landlord responsible for slip and fall injuries occurring inside the actual unit. For example, if there was a leak in your rental apartment, you would usually be responsible as the tenant — especially if you did not tell the landlord about it. But if you had told the landlord, the landlord had a reasonable amount of time to fix it and the issue was serious enough that the landlord should have known action was necessary, the landlord could very well be considered at fault.
Outside the property and common areas
One common issue is a person slipping on an icy sidewalk. Liability in this scenario depends on whose responsibility it is to clear the sidewalks. If the lease says tenants are responsible for shoveling, the tenant would be held liable. But if the lease says the landlord or a person hired by the landlord will clear the sidewalk, then the landlord would be at fault.
Even in common areas, the burden tends to be on the residents to keep premises clear and safe. If a person slips on garbage on the stairs, the landlord would likely not be liable because he or she could not be reasonably be expected to have kept the stairs clean, as he or she is not there most days. However, if the stairs are somehow defective or in violation of building codes, this would pose a strong case against the landlord.
For further guidance on determining liability in slip and fall claims, contact a skilled Sarasota County premises liability attorney with Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni & Walsh.