Let’s say you rent an apartment in a large complex and one morning, you’re using a public walkway when you slip on an uneven, wet surface. In the aftermath, should your landlord have noticed the issue and took action?

When it comes to apartments and other rented properties, generally a landlord must create a safe and hazard-free environment for both existing tenants and visitors. Just like a business owner, he or she is responsible for assessing, cleaning and otherwise caring for common areas. This includes warnings of unsafe spots, addressing hidden dangers and ensuring all dwellings are secure for the current occupants.

As is the case with all slip and fall claims, you need to prove your landlord’s negligence and awareness of the hazard. As such, whether he or she knew a hazard existed – an issue when a landlord oversees multiple properties – and how long it had been there all come into play, as well as your own care to notice and avoid the hazard. Consider the following as you start a claim.

Inside A Unit

man fallen in the snowIf a hazard occurs inside a unit, the landlord is typically not responsible or considered negligent, except in the following scenarios:

  • The issue is a building-wide concern that the landlord failed to address in a timely manner, such as leaking pipes creating a slip hazard across multiple units.
  • The landlord failed to adequately maintain the unit, disregarding requests for maintenance.
  • You noticed an issue within your unit and alerted the landlord, but the landlord never followed through with repairs. As a result, you slipped or fell because of the unavoidable.

Exterior and Common Areas

Accidents that occur outside are another matter. In this case, upkeep nearly always falls on the landlord and any third-party entities he or she employs. But, that’s not always the case where single-unit buildings are concerned. In these situations, always check your lease first: Since a landlord could be managing multiple properties and communities, you could be partially responsible for snow and ice removal.

Foreign substances – for instance, spilled water or food – in a multi-unit building can also turn into a contentious issue. While the landlord or staff may regularly survey the property, they may be unaware or not looking out for foreign substances. As a result, cleaning it up either falls directly on the responsible tenant or others in the building who should have contacted the landlord about the hazard.

Landlords are also expected to inspect, clean and remove hazards from:

  • The lobby and all similar entrances
  • Stairs and ramps
  • Any place where food gets prepared
  • Common restrooms
  • The pool area
  • Places with exposed pipes or condensation
  • Floors in all public areas

For these spots, it’s considered a standard, hazard-preventative practice to:

  • Clean, repair or replace flooring to avoid slippery or uneven surfaces and ensure the material and texture are appropriate.
  • Create safe walkways for all residents.
  • Schedule regular inspections involving the floor, lighting and stairs. Document the findings and repairs completed.
  • Have the appropriate cleaning products and procedures on hand for a range of flooring and surfaces. Otherwise, overuse or incorrect usage could create an even slipperier surface.
  • Make sure all large-scale cleaning and maintenance are done during off-hours to avoid a trip hazard for residents.
  • Add warning signs, if a hazard still needs to be cleaned or the surface is slippery from mopping.
  • Have a dependable spill plan to address and quickly clean up foreign substances.

Did a landlord’s negligence contribute to your injury? When a property owner will not pay damages or even acknowledge responsibility, get Trantolo & Trantolo’s slip and fall lawyers involved. To learn more about our services, give us a call today.