- How likely is the problem to cause an injury? The more likely a given problem is to cause an injury, the more unreasonable it becomes for the landlord to disregard it. A broken stair, damaged hallway tiling, or carpeting that is frayed are examples of problems that arguably create a likelihood of injury.
- Did the landlord have notice of the problem? In some cases, holding a defendant liable for problems that it wasn’t aware of, and therefore couldn’t fix, may be unfair. On the other hand, if a landlord knows about a hazard and doesn’t take steps to fix it, the chance of liability goes up. For potential plaintiffs, delving into questions of notice can be an important part of the evidence-gathering process. The landlord may have received numerous complaints about a trip hazard and done nothing. In some cases, such as if the problem has persisted for a long time, the landlord may be deemed to have had notice even if it hadn’t received independent reports.
- Did the landlord create the problem? Liability is more likely to adhere to a landlord who creates an unsafe condition and doesn’t correct it.
- Was the hazard in a location under the landlord’s control? An important element of any premises liability case involving landlords is whether the hazard that caused the injury was in a common area or within a tenant’s exclusive premises, such as in an apartment’s bathroom. If the landlord does not control the location of the hazard and doesn’t have notice about it, liability may rest with the tenant rather than the landlord. A closer question arises if the landlord had notice of the problem and didn’t correct it despite having a contractual obligation to do so.
Some renters struggle to get much in the way of service from their landlords. For one reason or another, some landlords simply refuse to take responsibility for maintenance problems that are unquestionably their obligation to resolve. Landlords who behave this way are banking on tenants and visitors lacking the resources to take real action to force the landlord to act. But when a tenant or visitor to a property gets injured in a slip-and-fall accident, the landlord’s inattention to maintenance can become a source of liability. In Nevada a landlord has a responsibility to exercise reasonable care to not cause visitors to its property to face an unreasonable risk of harm. A landlord who violates this obligation and, as a consequence, causes someone’s injury can be held liable for negligence. There are several factors that play into the landlord’s obligation to address maintenance problems that pose potential hazards: