Apartments are a major part of housing in New York City. Landlords of these units or building owners have the legal duty to protect their tenants and guests from injury from a slip or fall accident, violence, or another hazard. Their negligence and other irresponsible actions may be grounds for a premises liability or personal injury lawsuit by an injury victim.
Landlords may be liable if they, their property managers, or agents did not make timely repairs, perform timely inspections, or engage in necessary maintenance. Landlords can be negligent through their willful failure to maintain the property in a habitable condition by performing essential maintenance or fixing dangerous conditions they knew or should have known posed a risk to their tenants and visitors.
Premises liability holds landlords responsible for their negligence over certain areas in multi-family buildings like common hallways, stairways, lobbies, and other areas under their control. Landlords are also liable for repairs that leave the area in a dangerous condition.
A slip and fall is a typical premises liability injury. This occurs when a person slips or trips and suffers an injury from their fall. Landlords may be legally liable when an injury victim proves:
- A dangerous condition caused the accident.
- The landlord had control over that condition.
- The landlord knew or should have known that the dangerous condition existed and, through their negligence, did not repair it.
- The dangerous condition presented an unreasonable risk to others.
- The landlord should have fixed this condition because it persisted for a sufficient time.
- The injured person could not have reasonably anticipated the danger to avoid it.
Health, safety or building codes
Landlords may be sued for negligence if they violated a New York state law or state or city building code that was enacted to protect health and safety. If a law or building code requires a handrail in a specific area, for example, the landlord is liable for injuries if the handrail was not installed or defective.
Reckless or intentional acts
Landlords may be liable for reckless or intentional acts. These may also carry larger and additional punitive damages.
A reckless act involves extremely careless behavior or recklessness by allowing a dangerous defect, such as an electrical malfunction, to persist even though the landlord knew about it. Intentional means that the landlord engaged in a deliberate act to harm a person. Extreme verbal abuse of a resident, for example, could be grounds for a lawsuit for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Attorneys can help injured tenants, guests and visitors obtain evidence of any negligence if they were injured. They can help pursue the right to compensation in court and negotiations.