Is My Landlord Liable for My Personal Injuries?
November 20, 2017
The tenant/landlord relationship is defined in the contract that a renter signs before moving into a rental property. For the most part, these agreements are carefully worded by a contract attorney for the property owner or property management company. With the growing number of people moving in-and-out of our area, some landlords are taking full advantage of opportunities to avoid payment of damages through use of a waiver signed by the renter prior to taking possession of the property.
According to the Florida Supreme Court, the owner of a residential dwelling unit, who leases it to a tenant for residential purposes, has a duty to inspect the premises before allowing the tenant to take possession, and to make the necessary repairs to transfer a reasonably safe dwelling to the tenant. However, under Florida law, a landlord can negotiate their duty to make repairs directly with a tenant. For example, a tenant may be able to save money on rent by waiving the landlord's obligation to make certain repairs to a dwelling.
This does not mean a signed waiver represents a blanket dismissal of liability. Florida law also says, while a contract is in effect, a landlord does have a continuing duty to exercise reasonable care in repairing dangerous and defective conditions that are identified by a tenant's notice. But, as is the case with most personal injury lawsuits, negligence must be a direct cause of the plaintiff's injuries. It is also possible for a liability claim to come from invasion of privacy, acts of discrimination, or unlawful retaliatory evictions.
Although a landlord is not directly responsible for protecting a tenant from a criminal act, they are responsible for tenant security in common areas like stairs, elevators and hallways. In certain circumstances, this may involve installing security cameras and proper lighting as well as employing security personnel. Moreover, common areas must be kept reasonably safe and in good condition to avoid accidents. Most personal injury lawsuits involve very complex legal issues, if you or a loved one were injured by someone's unreasonable or negligent act, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your case.