With the housing market continually fluctuating, more people than ever before have moved from owning to renting. This is why it is so important for residents to understand what their legal rights are as they are related to their landlord, including the right they have to recover damages when it comes to potential premises liability claims.
In the state of Florida, an Open and Obvious Doctrine is followed, which means that if an injury results from any type of apparent condition that is present, the landlord is not going to be held liable for the damages. However, these hazards aren’t completely barred, because landlords of property have the duty to maintain the premises and keep it in a safe condition.
What Duties do Landlords Have?
Landlords have specific duties to their tenants, which include:
- Maintaining all common areas
- Providing warning of any hidden dangers which people are or should be aware of
- Providing safe furnished dwellings for a short-term lease
Questions to Determine if a Landlord can be Sued
If you are injured on your rental property, or someone else’s rental property, ask the following questions to determine if the landlord can be sued:
- Was the person who was injured genuinely hurt?
- Did the actions (or failure to act) of the landlord result in the accident?
- Was it possible to foresee the consequence that may occur if the problem wasn’t fixed?
- Was it unreasonably difficult or expensive to fix the issue?
- Did the landlord have adequate time to fix the issue or provide sufficient warnings?
- Was the landlord responsible for maintaining the part of the property where the accident occurred?
For example, if a tenant were to fall and break their ankle on a stairway that was damaged, the landlord would be held liable if the tenant is able to show that it was a common area that the landlord was responsible for maintaining, that the landlord was aware of the problem but did nothing to fix it in a reasonable amount of time, that the hazard caused a severe injury that was able to be foreseen, that the damaged stairway caused the injury and that the tenant was really hurt.
What Type of Damages can Tenants Receive?
If each of these factors are met, then the tenant will be able to recover the damages highlighted here against a landlord, which include:
- Damage to any personal property
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Lost earnings
- Medical costs
It is important to be aware that a landlord can be held liable for any injuries that take place in a rental unit because of a landlord’s faulty workmanship or repair. In these situations, the landlord may be held responsible for the defect, if the defect results in a serious injury.
If you do suffer an injury, it is a good idea to contact a premises liability attorney. They can review your case and work to protect your rights. More information about premises liability cases can be found by contacting the lawyers at Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton at 904-249-9030.