Orange County Apartment Premises Liability Lawyers
If you have experience living in an apartment, you probably know that not all landlords rush to fix everything wrong with the apartment right away. Collecting your rent check on the due date will likely be given a much higher priority than fixing a leaky faucet or replacing a broken dishwasher.
In some cases, a landlord’s reluctance to make necessary repairs can create dangerous conditions in which tenants or visitors can get hurt. If you or your loved one has been injured because of a hazardous condition in an apartment, or an apartment building or complex, you may have a premises liability claim for compensation.
Apartment landlords and property owners have a duty to maintain reasonable safety standards on their premises. When they fail to meet these standards to the extent that the property becomes hazardous to tenants and visitors, they may be considered negligent and liable for resulting injuries.
To win an apartment premises liability claim, your attorney must prove that your landlord was negligent. This can be accomplished by:
- Investigating your accident to determine cause and liability
- Thoroughly examining the building in question
- Revealing past infractions in the same or other buildings owned by the landlord
- Obtaining witness statements from other residents
- Collecting pictures and videos showing that the property owner was aware of the hazardous condition and failed to remedy it
Under certain conditions, an apartment property owner may be held liable for injuries that occur either before or after possession of the rental has been turned over to the tenant.
Before a landlord turns over possession of a rental unit to a tenant, and upon renewing a lease, the landlord is required to conduct a reasonable inspection of the property for unsafe conditions. The landlord is then required to repair any unsafe conditions that were discovered or should have been discovered in the inspection. If the landlord fails to repair any obviously unsafe condition, and a tenant or visitor is injured as a result, the landlord can be held liable.
A landlord cannot be expected to be aware of and repair all unsafe conditions that develop after a tenant takes possession of an apartment. The landlord does not have the right to enter the premises without the tenant’s permission. Consequently, a landlord generally cannot be held liable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions on the premises that came into existence after the tenant took possession, except:
- When the landlord had actual knowledge of the hazardous condition and the right to repair it; or
- When the injury occurred in a common area of the apartment complex over which the landlord retains control (such as a hallway, stairs, or an elevator).
Property owners cannot escape liability for failing to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition by delegating to independent contractors. If the landlord hires an independent contractor to maintain an apartment complex, and the contractor fails to fix a broken stair railing, a tenant or visitor injured as a result can still sue the landlord for damages.
Many apartment property owners put exculpatory clauses in their rental agreements, designed to absolve the landlord for injuries suffered by a tenant on the premises. Your lease may state in writing that you waive your right to hold the landlord liable. These clauses are not legal and not enforceable in California. If you have signed such a waiver as part of your rental agreement, you can still bring a claim against your landlord for any injuries you have suffered as a result of property owner negligence.
Our Orange County premises liability lawyers at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie are well-versed in apartment premises liability matters. Call us at (949) 752-7474 to schedule a free consultation if you or your loved one has been injured because of apartment property owner negligence.
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