Q: One summer day, a fire broke out in our studio apartment. The fire originated in an area where there were multiple extension cords connected to one outlet, by means of a power strip. The apartment had three electrical outlets in the main living space, with an additional one each in the hall, the bathroom and the kitchen. Our building was built in the 1930s, and there had never been an interior electrical upgrade.
At the time, I believe we were running the air conditioner, the fridge, the television, the videocassette recorder, the computer, three or four standing lights, two or three fans, and maybe the microwave.
Before the fire, on several occasions, I had requested that more outlets be installed, and had shown the superintendent that the existing receptacles were in disrepair. I had also complained that once or twice a week the apartment’s fuses would blow. The landlord had repeatedly refused to make the repairs.
A: An owner of property has a nondelegable duty to maintain his property in a reasonably safe condition, taking into account the foreseeability of injury to others. Moreover, there are special laws obliging the owners of multiple dwellings to keep them in good repair. Although an owner must exercise reasonable care in maintaining the property, this one had actual or constructive notice of a dangerous condition in your apartment, and yet failed to remedy it.
Surely, your lifestyle and electrical consumption were consistent with the reasonable needs of any modern tenant, and you were not required to adapt your electrical usage to the building’s limitations. Your attorney will take the position that, by failing to upgrade the electricity, the landlord breached his duty to keep the building, and in particular your apartment, reasonably safe.
By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial
The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.
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