Borders v. Roseberry
532 P.2d 1366 (Kan. 1975).
Plaintiff lost and appealed.
Is a lessor (owner) liable for injuries that a tenant’s guest sustained?
A lessor usually has no duty of care to the tenant or guest except in certain exceptions:
- “Undisclosed dangerous conditions are known to the lessor and unknown to the lessee.”
- “Conditions are dangerous to persons outside of the premises.”
- “Premises are leased for admission of the public.”
- “Parts of the land are retained in lessor’s control which lessee is entitled to use.”
- “The lessor has made contracts to repair the home.”
- The was “negligence by the lessor in making repairs.”
None of the exceptions are met. Affirmed.
The lessee had a social guest over. At some point there was damage to the roof which caused a puddle to form on the steps outside of the home (which froze). The guest slipped on the spill and took a spill. Then, the guest sued the lessor.
None of the exceptions apply to the case above. If there is anyone who is liable, it would be the lessee because he knew of the puddle and did not warn about its whereabouts. Therefore, the action against the lessor is dismissed.
The old common law rule was that when the lessor leased out an estate to the lessee, possession passed into the lessee and the lessor was not liable to the lessee or their guests. There are the 6 exceptions listed in this court. We only need to focus on the 6th where the lessor should not be negligent in making repairs.
Pagelsdorf v. Safeco Ins. Co. of America
284 N.W.2d 55 (Wis. 1979).
Pagelsdorf is the plaintiff, lost and appealed.
Did the trial court error by not instructing the jury that the lessor owed a duty to a lessee’s visitor because he failed to exercise ordinary care in maintaining the premises?
Old Rule: Landlords are not liable
New Rule: Landlords need to exercise ordinary care to maintain premises.
There was error in failing to provide the instructions, reversed and remanded.
The plaintiff was helping the tenant of the apartment complex move some furniture. While doing so, he leaned against a guardrail on a balcony. The rail had some decay and broke with the weight causing the plaintiff to fall and injure himself.
The courts here in the past had said that there is no distinction between an invitee and a licensee when it came to the duty of care they were owed by the lessee. Here, the courts simply extend that liability to lessors. This is because leases are simply considered a contract rather than a passing of possession. As a result, they can and should be liable for the injuries tenants and their visitors face when ordinary care was not exercised. He could have found out about the decay easily, and thus, was negligent in his duty.
The courts here decided to take a new approach because the way of looking at a lease had changed from “estate” to “contract”.
Because this is a contract, we should follow ordinary negligence principle that the lessor has to exercise ordinary care.
Consider Coase’s Theorem. Property owners have such an ability to bargain and create contracts that any costs that the court imposes on property owners can easily be negotiated between the owners and their tenants.
Kline v. 1500 Mass. Ave. Apartment Corp.
439 F.2d 477 (D.C. Cir. 1970).
Kline is the plaintiff, lost and appealed.
Whether a duty should be placed on lessors to prevent crimes from occurring in the common hallways of the apartment complex.
As a general rule, not liable. However, here, they want to change the rule where the landowner needs to exercise reasonable care to protect the defendant.
Failed to uphold their duty of care, reversed.
The plaintiff was attacked and robbed in the common hallway of the defendant’s apartment complex. In the past, the defendant had a doorman to protect the premises, but that was in the past. No doorman was present at the time of the attack. Additionally, the defendant knew of the increase of crime in the area.
The reason for the original rule was to prevent liability for the unforeseeable actions of third parties. In other words, criminal acts are typically seen as a superseding. However, here, the criminal acts were foreseeable because the lessor had notice of the increase of crime happening in the apartment complex. Therefore, he needed to exercise reasonable care (such as having a doorman) to protect the tenants.
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