Tenant’s Failure-to-Repair Case Against Landlord Permitted to Proceed Toward Trial

Florida landlords are required to take certain precautions when it comes to the safety of the homes they lease to tenants. When a landlord fails to make necessary repairs to a residence or fails to warn a tenant about a known hazard on the property, the landlord may be held financially liable for the tenant’s injuries through a Florida premises liability lawsuit.

Legal News GavelEarlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving injuries sustained by a tenant as she was entering the residence that she had leased from the defendant landlord. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether the lower court was correct in dismissing both of the plaintiff’s claims. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was conflicting evidence as to whether the landlord conducted necessary repairs, so the plaintiff’s failure-to-repair claim should not have been dismissed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff rented a home from the defendant. After about 18 months of living in the home, the plaintiff tripped and fell when the heel of her shoe got caught in a crack between the front patio and the top step leading up to the patio.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the landlord, claiming that the landlord was negligent in failing to warn her about the known hazard and in failing to repair the dangerous step. As is common in residential leases, the lease signed by the parties specified that all major repairs were to be performed by the landlord, with the exception of damage caused by the tenant.

As it turns out, both the landlord and the tenant knew about the crack before the tenant’s fall. Before the tenant moved in, the landlord had been cited because the home was not up to code. One of the violations involved the sunken front step that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The landlord claimed that he had performed the necessary repairs; however, an inspection that was conducted after the plaintiff’s fall revealed that the step had not been repaired. The plaintiff was also aware of the crack and testified that she was careful when going up and down the stairs to avoid the crack.

The lower court dismissed both of the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff appealed to a higher court. On appeal, the court agreed that the plaintiff’s failure-to-warn claim was properly dismissed because the plaintiff admitted that she knew about the crack and the danger it presented. However, the court agreed with the plaintiff that there was an issue of fact that needed resolution regarding her failure-to-repair claim.

The court explained that there was conflicting evidence regarding whether the landlord ever conducted the repairs required by the initial building inspection. While the landlord claimed to have conducted the repairs, the subsequent inspection revealed that they had not been performed. While it may have been that the landlord made the repairs, and the step sunk again over time, that was an issue of fact that should be determined by a jury. Thus, the court held that summary judgment was not proper on the failure-to-repair claim, and it reversed the lower court’s dismissal of that claim.

Have You Been Injured in a Rented or Leased Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a rented or leased property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a South Florida premises liability lawsuit. The dedicated South Florida personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience handling Florida personal injury cases, including premises liability cases. We represent clients across South Florida and provide free consultations to victims to help them determine whether they have a case. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule your free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Medical Malpractice Case Against Pharmacy Following Medication Error, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 26, 2017.

Court Finds Question of Whether Defendant Had Knowledge of Dangerous Condition Was a Matter for the Jury, Rejecting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 5, 2018.

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