Tobener Ravenscroft

Landlord Caused Injuries

When can a landlord be held liable for a tenant’s personal injury?

A tenant can recover for personal injuries caused by a landlord’s or property manager’s negligent care of property. To prove a claim for negligence, a tenant must show that (1) the landlord owed a duty to maintain the property; (2) the landlord negligently cared for the property; and (3) the landlord’s negligence caused the tenant’s personal injury. A landlord has a duty to maintain his property in a habitable condition. Stoiber v. Honeychuck, 101 Cal. App. 3d 903, 924 (1980).

Does a landlord have a duty to inspect?

A landlord’s lack of knowledge of a dangerous condition is not a defense. Portillo v. Aiassa, 27 Cal. App. 4th 1128, 1134. A landlord must conduct reasonable periodic inspections of the common areas of a rental property during a tenancy. CACI 1006. Whenever a unit is vacant, a landlord must inspect the unit itself and all common areas for unsafe conditions. Id. This duty to inspect includes taking reasonable precautions to prevent injury. Id. A landlord has a duty to repair conditions that a landlord knows about or reasonably should have known about. Id. Once a tenant is in possession, a landlord must take reasonable precautions to prevent injury due to any unsafe conditions in areas under the tenant’s control if the landlord had actual knowledge of the condition. Id.

Can a landlord be held liable for a personal injury caused by a landlord’s employee, contractor, repairperson, worker or manager?

A landlord can be held liable for injuries caused by a landlord’s employee, contractor, repairmen, worker or manager. Srithong v. Total Investment Co., 23 Cal. App. 4th 721, 726 (1994). The duty to repair is non-delegable, meaning a landlord is liable for personal injuries caused by the refusal or failure of an agent to repair a dangerous condition. Id. If an employee or agent of the landlord created or knew of a dangerous condition, then it is presumed that the landlord knew of the dangerous condition. CACI 1012.

Can a landlord be held liable for personal injuries caused by criminal activity?

A landlord can be held liable for the criminal conduct of third parties, including other tenants. CACI 1005. Criminal conduct includes assault, battery, theft, burglary, arson, rape, murder, vandalism, and property damage. To prove a claim for landlord liability for the negligent or intentional criminal conduct of others, a tenant must show that there were prior similar criminal incidents at the property or show other indications of a reasonably foreseeable risk of violent crime at the property. Delgado v. Trax Bar & Grill, 36 Cal. 4th 224, 240 (2005) and Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center, 6 Cal. 4th 666 (1993).

A landlord must secure common areas to protect against crime. Depending on the types of crimes in the neighborhood, this may include adding a security gate, motion sensitive lighting, improved lighting, working locks for common areas, video surveillance, and automatic garage doors. Property owners may not be required to provide security guards unless a series of criminal assaults have occurred. Delgado v. Trax Bar and Grill, 36 Cal. 4th 224 (2005). Nor are landlords required to make garages secure if the landlord never claimed the garage to be a secured area. Kwaitkowski v. Superior Trading, 123 Cal. App. 3d 324, 328 (1981).

How long does a landlord have to repair a dangerous condition?

To be held liable for a tenant’s personal injuries, a landlord need only know about a dangerous condition for so long as it would have taken to (1) repair the condition; or (2) protect against harm from the condition; or (3) adequately warn of the condition. CACI 1011.

Is a landlord responsible for personal injuries caused by dangerous driveways, parking garages or sidewalks?

A landlord must maintain sidewalks, driveways, garages, and abutting streets in safe condition to prevent potential tenant personal injury. CACI 1007 and Swanberg v. O’Mectin, 157 Cal. App. 3d 325, 330 (1984).

Sample cases from the injury lawyers at Tobener Ravenscroft LLP:

Tobener Ravenscroft LLP has recovered millions on behalf of tenants who have suffered personal injuries caused by landlords. Here are sample cases:

  • Tenants suffering personal injury in fires.
  • Tenants suffering personal injury from rats, bedbugs, mites, termites, cockroaches, and spider infestations.
  • Tenants suffering personal injury from carbon monoxide exposure.
  • Tenants suffering personal injury from lead exposure.
  • Tenants suffering personal injury from mold exposure.
  • Tenants suffering personal injury from falls on broken, illegal or dilapidated steps.
  • Tenants suffering personal injury from water leaks and sewage overflows.
  • Tenants suffering personal injury from nuisance tenants.
  • Tenants suffering personal injury from criminal conduct; including rape, assault, and robberies.
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