Bob rented his home in Honesdale to the Mason\’s. Bob was relocated by his company to Syracuse. Over the winter of 2009, there were quite a lot of ice storms. For whatever reason, Mr. Mason just refused to keep his sidewalk leading to his doorstep free of ice. Over the months of January and February, the ice accumulated. Unfortunately, the mailman slipped on the ice, fracturing his hip. The mailman brought suit against the Mason\’s as the renters of the home as well as Bob as the owner.
Issue: Does Bob have any liability to the mailman as a result of the fall?
Answer: No. Bob is what is termed a landlord out of possession. In effect, he has delegated the day-to-day upkeep of the home to the Mason\’s. There are situations where a landlord may be held co-liable for injuries. Those situations arise most commonly when there are multiple family complexes that are being rented. In those situations, landlords remain responsible for the common areas, such as hallways and parking lots. Another example would be if there was some type of defect in the home, such as rotted steps, which the landlord should have been aware of. In this case, the dangerous condition was caused by day-to-day accumulation of ice for which the landlord could not be held responsible. The Mason\’s, on the other hand, 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.