Tom and Mary had just moved from out of the area and they rented a house in Hawley. The first weekend that the couple was in the house, some of their friends came over for a barbeque. There was an outdoor porch that surrounded the house and one of Tom\’s friends, Stan, sat on the porch rail. Unfortunately for Stan, the rail was rotted and Stan went tumbling down to the ground and sustained some pretty significant injuries to his neck and back. Reluctantly, Stan started suit against Tom and Mary.
ISSUE: Do Tom and Mary have any recourse against their landlord?
ANSWER: Yes. A landlord even if out of possession of a home such as this has the obligation to inspect the home to make sure that it is free from any defects that a reasonable inspection would uncover. In this case the railing along the porch, despite being in poor condition, had been painted over. It was within the foreseeability that somebody would either lean against or even sit on the railing and have an accident as what happened in this case.
Tom and Mary will not be liable for any damages to Stan but the landlord will be.
Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.