This blog has discussed various aspects of premises liability law in Connecticut and whether a property owner is liable for injuries someone suffers while on that property. We have touched on the fact that this partially depends upon the status of the injured party; that is, whether he or she is an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser. This discussion has generally focused on properties where visitors are transient, such as places of business and the like. However, many people in the state actually reside in properties that they do not own. What happens when someone is injured on the premises of a rental property?
First, it should be recognized that it would seem that tenants would be the ultimate invitees. That is, they are present on the property for the mutual benefit of themselves and the owner. That won’t end the inquiry, however, because, as a rule, landlords don’t have exclusive control over the rental property, as the tenant lives there, and there may be laws preventing the landlord from simply coming in at any time. So some special rules may apply in these cases.
As a general matter, a landlord might be held responsible for injuries suffered on the property under certain conditions. First, the injury must have been caused by a condition the landlord had a duty to repair. This is often true of “common areas” such as steps or pathways, for example. He or she may also have a duty under the lease agreement to repair other conditions inside a unit. The landlord will only be liable if the condition was not repaired within a reasonable time after he or she learned about the condition, and the repairs could be done without unreasonable cost or difficulty. Finally, normal negligence rules about causation would apply, such as the injury must have been a direct and proximate cause of the condition.
Premises liability in rental situation can be very complex and every case will have different factors that need to be addressed. The above is simply general information and not a substitute for legal advice. Those with questions about recovering for injuries sustained on another’s property may wish to consider consulting an experienced Connecticut attorney.