Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Gary Borders (Plaintiff), was injured when he slipped and fell on icy steps while visiting a tenant at the Defendant, Roseberry’s (Defendant), house. Defendant knew of a condition that caused water to drip onto the steps and freeze there. Plaintiff sued Defendant for injuries sustained.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A landlord has no duty to social guests of his tenant to repair a known condition at the tenant’s residence, unless one of six exceptions is present.
The relationship of landlord and tenant is not in itself sufficient to make the landlord liable for the tortious acts of the tenant.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Did the trial court commit reversible error in concluding as a matter of law that a landlord is under no obligation or duty to a social guest of his tenant to repair a known condition at the tenant’s residence?
Held. No. Judgment affirmed.
* Traditionally, the law has placed the burden of maintaining the premises on the lessee tenant. This rule has resulted from the view that when land is leased to a tenant, the lessee acquires an estate in the land and the lessor retains only a reversionary interest. Therefore, a landlord generally has no liability in regard to either the tenant or to others entering the land for defective conditions thereon.
* This general rule of non-liability is subject to the following six exceptions: (1) Undisclosed dangerous conditions known to lessor and unknown to lessee; (2) Conditions dangerous to persons outside the premises; (3) Premises leased for admission to the public; (4) Parts of land retained in lessor’s control which lessee is entitled to use; (5) Where the lessor contracts to repair; (6) Negligence by the lessor in making repairs.
* This Court finds that none of the above cited exceptions existed in the present case. Plaintiff contends that the law should be changed to make the landlord liable for injuries resulting from a defective condition on the leased premises where the landlord has knowledge of that condition. This Court does not believe that a departure from the established rules of law is justified.
Discussion. The Court’s description of landlord non-liability and the exceptions thereto represents an accurate picture of the law in most states.