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What Constitutes Landlord Negligence?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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Basically, landlord negligence occurs when landlords or building managers fail to do timely repairs, inspections or maintenance work. Although negligence laws specific to landlords vary in different regions and countries, if the landlord is shown to have willfully disregarded steps in property upkeep and tenant safety, he or she can usually be found negligible in a lawsuit. In most landlord negligence claims, the tenant is considered to have the right to expect that his or her rented property is to remain no worse or unsafe than when he or she moved in and signed the rental agreement.

Tenants are responsible for carefully reading a rental agreement before they sign, although by law, these agreements are not usually allowed to specify that basic maintenance is not the landlord's responsibility. In addition to this, many areas have laws as to when landlords must regularly inspect equipment such as electrical units and water heaters. The law typically holds landlords responsible for upkeep and actively overseeing that the property is in a safe, functioning order or a claim of landlord negligence is likely.

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For example, if a water pipe bursts in a tenant's suite and the landlord is informed yet ignores the request, he or she can be charged with negligence. In a landlord negligence lawsuit, the tenant should try to have evidence that the landlord was contacted, especially if this occurred on several occasions. If the rental suite or the tenant's belongings become damaged from the neglect, the landlord is likely to have a claim for payment for these damages against him or her.

Not changing a light bulb in a common hallway or repairing a broken stair on a staircase on the property also usually constitutes landlord negligence. A tenant or visitor may trip or fall, causing injury. Any signs of mold or leaking water pipes anywhere in the building must be repaired promptly to avoid tenants becoming sick. A landlord is responsible for making certain that all areas of the building and property are safe. For instance, if a landlord doesn't do regular checks of the elevator, this is another area which constitutes negligence because tenant safety is placed at risk.

Not only keeping all areas safe, but also secure from intruders is another responsibility of the landlord. In many areas, if the landlord fails to notify law enforcement authorities of an attempted break in, it can constitute negligence. Failure to repair outdoor security lightning or report any suspicious behavior to the police and the tenants usually also constitutes landlord negligence.

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anon352679
Post 5

The senior housing apartments my mother lives in refuse to clean filthy walkways and they lie to incoming tenants about the "solar Heating" which does not work. The swimming pool is never heated! The "manager" threatens the tenants constantly with bogus complaints. What a nutcase!

anon331719
Post 4

The landlord boarded up the second story windows. We had a fire and the fire department was restricted due to inaccessibility. Consequently, the five bedroom house burned to the ground, destroying all of my and my son's possessions. We did not have renters insurance so landlord said it was all his and collected from his insurance for all of my things. He is keeping the money for everything I ever owned in my whole life. Can I sue him for negligence and recover any monies he collected?

candyquilt
Post 3

A pipe burst and flooded the basement of our house last year. I couldn't go to court for landlord negligence though because I had noticed that some of the pipes in the basement were bad when we moved in but I never said anything to the landlord. So it's not his fault.

bluedolphin
Post 2

@burcidi-- I'm not a lawyer, but that sounds like it would fit landlord negligence. If an intrusion did occur, the landlord would be liable to pay negligence compensation for stolen or damaged items. Of course, you should check with a local lawyer to be positive and make sure to read your lease.

It's also a good idea to keep all the correspondence you have with your landlord about this problem. If there are phone messages, emails or letters that you sent requesting him to change the keys, keep it as evidence.

burcidi
Post 1

My landlord owns two houses in the same neighborhood and both houses have the same exact key.

My roommates and I have requested him to change the keys but he refuses to do so. We're worried that someone might get a hold of the key from the other house and enter our house to steal or harm one of us.

If an intrusion does occur, could we sue for negligence since he's refusing to change the keys?

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