Answer: A landlord has responsibilities to those who come onto his or her property. This includes keeping the property in sound physical condition, which means maintaining walkways, stairways, bricks, etc.; informing others of hazards on the property; and ensuring that any such hazards are kept as safe as possible.
For instance, if a homeowner has a jacuzzi tub in the backyard, this is called an "attractive nuisance." Neighborhood children would not understand the danger associated with this device and likely would want to play in it. The homeowner should anticipate this and do what he or she can to mitigate that danger, which would include covers, locks, alarms and fencing.
Both homeowners and business owners have responsibilities to invitees, licensees and even trespassers.
- Invitees: These are given implied or express invitations by the owner for some mutual benefit or for something to be conducted on the property.
- Licensees: This person is licensed to remain on a property with the owner's consent. The owner has a duty to warn of any dangers known to the owner but not to the licensee.
- Trespassers: A trespasser enters onto a landowner's property for his own advantage and purpose, without the landowner's permission or knowledge. The landowner owes a duty not to injure or cause injury to the trespasser. However, he's not under a duty to keep his land in reasonable condition for the trespasser or let him know of hazardous areas.
In the end, it all comes down to how the person was using the property.
- Why was the person on the property?
- How were they using the property?
- Was the accident foreseeable?
- Did the owner make reasonable efforts to warn of existing dangers?
The most important part of this type of case – which typically falls under "premises liability" -- is how that person is categorized if they are hurt on your property.
Are they an invitee or licensee? What if they're a trespasser? What duty of care do you owe to them?
Landlords also owe a special duty of care for their renters, such as taking care of immediate problems in the residence, clearing parking spots, removing snow and fixing any unfinished construction. They also need to remove health hazards like mold from the interior of the building.
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