The act of leasing or renting a home, apartment or other dwelling immediately places what’s called a duty of care on the part of the landlord toward the tenant to whom they rent their property. Immediately, they become responsible under Illinois Premises Liability law for providing a habitable space for both renters and visitors to their property. This duty of care involves more than just safety, but with regard to safety and injury, it requires landlords to properly maintain common property areas and to be aware of dangers (hidden and in plain view) on the property and make tenants and visitors aware of them. When accidents and injuries occur as a result of a breach of this duty, the property owner is often found liable.
Take, for instance, apartment buildings with back stairways. Sometimes tenants put garbage and empty boxes outside their door to be discarded later. Some tenants (or even the landlord) may at times use thes spaces for extra, if temporary, storage. It’s the landlord’s responsibility to keep those stairways clear and safe. If there are broken stairs that cause a fall, injuries that result would most likely lie at the foot of the landlord.
As for rental spaces, it’s still the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the space is habitable and safe. However, individual leases may prescribe certain responsibilities for the tenant to maintain. It’s important for tenants to be fully aware of their responsibilities in that regard. For instance, some rental agreements prescribe that the tenant is responsible for replacing light bulbs directly outside their unit. If that is the case, and you neglect to replace a broken light bulb, should you trip and fall going down the stairs under these conditions, the landlord may not be held liable for personal injury damages.
Additionally, the landlord is, in most cases, responsible for repair of a unit’s condition, particularly when that condition is hazardous. However, if they are not aware of a distinct danger present due of disrepair, they might not be held liable for injuries should they result. So, it’s important to notify the landlord of any and all unsafe conditions they should be aware of. And when you do notify them, it’s important to document that notification (and the acknowledgement thereof). That way, should an injury result if those repairs are not made, you will have evidence that the landlord knew of the danger and did not respond reasonably to ensure your safety and the safety of your visitors.
Take, for instance, a broken window or an exposed electrical wire. These are very hazardous dangers and pose a threat to safety for anyone present. It would be vitally important that these conditions be repaird or reversed immediately, but if the landlord is not made aware of them, it’s difficult to prove that they even know of the hazards.
It’s also important to understand your rights as a tenant in Illinois, so that you understand the ways the law provides for redress in a landlord/tenant dispute.
Should you suffer an injury as a result of a distinct hazard in your rental unit, it’s important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney like those at Bizzieri Law Offices, who can help file a claim under premises liability law.
Call us at 773.881.9000 if you have questions about filing a claim. There is not fee for the initial consultation and we don’t get paid unless we recover damages for you.