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Landlord and Tenant Law: Can a Landlord be Sued in a Premises Liability Lawsuit?

North Carolina landlord and tenant law can be very complex and difficult to understand. Unless a property owner has a thorough understanding of landlord and tenant law, he or she may fail to take the proper steps to protect his or her interests and assets. Our landlord and tenant law attorneys have extensive experience handling a variety of cases arising out of North Carolina landlord and tenant law, including but not limited to, issues related to premises liability.

What is Premises Liability?

Premises liability relates to the area of law that protects individuals who are harmed while on another person’s property. Slip and fall injuries are the most common types of premises liability cases that we see. For example, if you are shopping and fall over a box left in the middle of the aisle and suffer injuries, you may have a premises liability claim against the property owner. You may be entitled to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other compensable damages.

As a property owner, you have a duty of care to maintain your property in a manner that protects visitors, customers, and others safe while on your property. If you breach that duty of care, you may be held liable for damages if someone is injured while on your property. However, how does this relate to North Carolina landlord and tenant law?

Court of Appeals Rules on Landlord’s Duty to Tenant in Injury Cases

In a recent ruling by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the court affirmed an award of $200,000 to a tenant who was injured when he fell on stairs in the common area of an apartment building. In the case of Mansfield v. Real Estate Plus, Inc., et al, the tenant sued the landlord for injuries he sustained when he fell on stairs in the common area of the apartment building where he lived. The lower court ruled in favor of Mansfield and he was awarded $200,000 for his injuries and damages. The landlord appealed the lower court’s decision but the appellate court agreed with the lower court and upheld the judgment.

Under premises liability, a property owner has a duty of care to maintain the property in a safe condition. When the landlord breaches this duty of care and that breach causes injury to another person, the landlord can be held liable for that person’s damages. This applies to landlords as well as other property owners. The landlord has a duty to maintain all common areas, including stairs, in a safe condition for the use of tenants and others visiting the property.

The landlord argued that he had not breached his duty of care because he did not have any notice that there was a problem with the stair rail that caused the tenant’s injuries. However, the court agreed with a previous court ruling that states a landlord has a duty to conduct reasonable inspections to avoid unsafe conditions. In this case, the landlord had not inspected the stair rail in 20 years prior to the accident; therefore, he breached his duty to maintain the property in a safe condition. The landlord had not hired any experts such as contractors or termite inspectors to inspect the stair rail for him either.

The landlord also argued that the tenant should have notified the landlord of the damaged stair rail; therefore, the tenant should be held responsible for his injury. The court found that the tenant did not have the duty to inspect the stairwell nor did the landlord present any evidence that the tenant had any knowledge about the damaged stair rail.

Despite the landlord’s arguments on appeal, the court held the landlord responsible for the tenant’s injuries by affirming the jury’s $200,000 verdict.

Jacksonville Landlord and Tenant Law Attorneys

“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”

If you own rental property in North Carolina, you must understand landlord and tenant law in order to protect yourself from liability. If you breach your duties under landlord and tenant law, you can be sued and held liable for damages if your tenant or another person is injured on your property. Our landlord and tenant law attorneys can explain your duties to help avoid any future problems.

If you have been sued under North Carolina’s landlord and tenant law, you need a defense attorney who understands these laws and can provide you with the best defense possible to limit your liability. If you are in Duplin County, Onslow County, or the surrounding communities, contact our office now to speak with a North Carolina landlord and tenant law attorney. Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.

North Carolina landlord and tenant law can be very complex and difficult to understand. Unless a property owner has a thorough understanding of landlord and tenant law, he or she may fail to take the proper steps to protect his or her interests and assets. Our landlord and tenant law attorneys have extensive experience handling a variety of cases arising out of North Carolina landlord and tenant law, including but not limited to, issues related to premises liability.

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