Negligent Slip and Fall Case at Your Apartment: Is this Grounds to Terminate a Lease?
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, often including apartment buildings or the units themselves. In such instances, it’s important for landlords to understand the potential fallout. First off, negligence is almost always necessary for there to be any liability in a slip and fall case, but how do you determine if a landlord is negligent? For those who don’t already know, negligence is often defined as failing to take a reasonable amount of care. In the landlord and tenant context, this often means failing to fix a condition that the landlord knew or reasonably should have known was unsafe (i.e. – a broken stair, missing handrail, etc).
When the slip and fall is the result of a dangerous or defective condition in the apartment, negligence often comes to down to whether the landlord knew or should have known about it. Let’s use a slip and fall that occurs because of a leaky pipe as a hypothetical.
Obviously, if the tenant provided notice to the landlord of the leaky pipe, this is not an issue since the landlord knew about the problem and should have had it fixed before it caused an accident. Otherwise, you would have to show that a reasonable landlord would have known that the pipe was leaking in order to prove negligence. If the leak was inside an apartment unit, it’s very unlikely a reasonable landlord would know about it without a tenant telling him/her (unless the building’s plumbing was so old that a reasonable landlord would assume that leaks were occurring).
Assuming for the purposes of this blog that the landlord was negligent, and that his/her negligence caused a slip and fall injury in your apartment, can you break your lease?
First of all, anytime you wish to break your lease, the first step is always to check the lease itself. Many residential leases contain terms that govern what happens when injuries or crimes occur in the unit or apartment building. If you’re not sure, consult with a locallandlord tenant attorney Chicago trusts for a thorough review of your lease.
Absent a lease provision that allows you to break your lease, however, chances are still fairly good that whatever defective apartment/building condition led to the slip and fall could also get you out of it. That’s because such defective conditions could also be considered a violation of the implied warranty of habitability, which requires all landlords to provide apartments that are suitable for human habitation. A leaky pipe that led to a slip and fall injury not only presents a danger to tenants, but also could lead to toxic mold, water damage that compromises the integrity of the ceiling, and more – all of which touch on whether the apartment unit is habitable or not.
Much like with any apartment lease issue you’re having, it’s best to consult with a local landlord and tenant attorney for advice tailored to your individual circumstances. Attempting to break your lease on your own could result in an eviction case, and landlords are well-advised to take care of any defective conditions in their apartment units before they become even bigger problems.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from William Mazur Law for their insight into negligent slip and fall cases on a rental property.