Landlord in Possession

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Q: In the bathroom at my workplace, water had accumulated on the floor, and I slipped.  Shortly afterwards, both a coworker and an employee of the building’s managing agent told me that the hot water heater had been malfunctioning.  Can I sue the landlord?

A: Often, the landlord seems entirely to have parted with possession, e.g. by means of a net-net-net lease.  An out-of-possession landlord and its agent are not liable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions on leased premises in the absence of one of three exceptions: (1) a statute imposing liability, (2) a contractual provision placing the duty to repair on the landlord, or (3) a course of conduct by the landlord giving rise to this duty.

Your attorney will demand to see a copy of the lease.  Perhaps there is a provision requiring the landlord to remedy any defective condition in any plumbing, heating system or electrical lines located in the demised premises following prompt notice by the tenant.  If so, you appear to have a good chance of succeeding with the second exception.

From the fact that the landlord’s managing agent knew about the malfunctioning, you appear to have evidence both that the landlord had received notice and (under the third exception) that there was a course of conduct putting the responsibility on the landlord.  Your attorney is able to argue both that the landlord had notice of the defective hot water heater, and that the landlord was under the duty.

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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