Landlord Tenant Tort Liability
At common law, before Michigan adopted statutes and codified law in this area, a landlord owed no duty to a tenant’s invitees. Meaning, landlords were completely free from liability. They merely owned the land they rented and if someone was injured on the property, then it was the person in legal control of the property that had liability.
This is not the case today. Landlords have 5 areas where they are responsible for torts that occur on their premises:
- Latent defects: That the landlord knows or has reason to know about. Landlord doesn’t need to fix the problem, but he has a duty to disclose the problem.
- Short-term lease of a furnished dwelling: Means that a landlord is liable to his tenants regardless of knowledge of the defect.
- Common areas: Tenant is liable if he fails to use reasonable care in keeping the common areas safe.
- Negligent repairs: Even if the landlord used all due care in creating a negligent repair. There’s liability because you should have acted more reasonably. This is a subjective standard not an objective standard: we don’t care about what the landlord thought about his repair, we care about the inevitable consequence of him doing a poorer job than that of a reasonable landlord.
- Public use: The landlord must know of the defect, know that the tenant wont fix the defect, and know that the public is using the premise. If there’s an injury, then there’s liability.
Goodwin & Scieszka has been battling premise liability claims in Detroit and Metro Detroit for over 30 years. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence act, contact our firm today. We’re here for you when you need us most.