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Landlord liability lawsuits in the Binghamton and Ithaca area often involve injuries that occur due to:
- sidewalk fall accidents,
- parking lot fall accidents, and
- stairway accidents.
Typically, landlord liability cases in New York involve the landlord or property owner’s failure to properly maintain the premises, i.e., negligence in maintaining walkways. However, landlords may also be held liable for criminal activity due to negligent maintenance or negligent security in the face of foreseeable criminal conduct of third parties.
Landlord Liable for a Fall Accident in Binghamton, NY – A Case Study
AA is the owner and landlord of a home in Binghamton which he rents to BB, the tenant. BB has a party during the winter. BB's friend, CC who is from Ithaca, arrives and slips on a patch of ice on the sidewalk leading to the home. CC breaks his wrist and needs surgery which causes him to miss several weeks of work. Can he file a lawsuit for compensation for the sidewalk slip and fall accident? If so, who is liable? AA the owner/landlord, BB the tenant, or both?
The answer depends on several key factors including the details of the landlord/tenant relationship between AA and BB and who retained control over the sidewalk where the accident occurred.
Landlord Must Be in Control of the Rented Premises
Under New York personal injury law, the general rule is that a property owner or landlord is bound by the common-law duty to act as a reasonable person in maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition. For landlord liability cases in the Binghamton and Ithaca area, this principle applies to apartment buildings or apartment complexes as well as home rentals, both long term and short term rentals.
In-Possession vs. Out-of-Possession – Did the Landlord Maintain Control Over the Property?
Landlords and owners, who are not in possession of the rented property, would only be liable for injuries resulting from a defective condition of that portion of the premises over which the landlord retains control.
In landlord liability lawsuits, New York courts have held that "an out-of-possession” landlord is not liable for injuries that occur on the premises after the transfer of possession and control to a tenant unless:
- the landlord is contractually obligated to repair the premises, or
- the landlord has reserved the right to enter the premises to make repairs, and liability is based on a significant structural or design defect that violates a specific statutory safety provision.
Determining who maintained “control” of the premises, or a portion thereof, can be a difficult task, as it often turns on the particular relationship between the landlord and tenant. Establishing control over the premises may be done through:
- proof of the landlord's express promise, such as a covenant in a lease, to keep the premises in good repair, or
- through the actions or conduct of the landlord demonstrating an assumed responsibility to maintain control of a particular portion of the premises.
Control may also be established through evidence that the landlord has reserved the right at any time to enter the premises to inspect and make such repairs.
In these cases, it is crucial to identify all potential parties including the property owner, landlord, property management company, etc. Oftentimes, landlord liability in NY cases involve multiple contracts between parties which will determine the parties responsible for control and maintenance responsibilities of the specific area where the accident occurred.
Binghamton Injury Lawyers – Landlord Liability Cases
If you were a tenant or guest and were injured on a rental premises, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Levene Gouldin & Thompson for a FREE, no obligation consultation. 607.763.9200
Levene Gouldin & Thompson, LLP. Since 1927, our firm has been handling personal injury lawsuits throughout Northeast Pennsylvania, the Southern Tier and Upstate New York including Steuben County, Bradford County, Susquehanna County, Chemung County, Tioga County, Tompkins County, Cortland County, Broome County, Chenango County, Delaware County, Otsego County, Towanda, Norwich, Oneonta, Cooperstown, Corning, Big Flats, Horseheads, Elmira, Ithaca, Spencer Van Etten, Montrose, Athens, Waverly, Owego, Vestal, Endicott, Johnson City, Binghamton and the surrounding area.
Page reviewed and updated: September 30, 2020