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The key to liability is often knowledge of the danger

When determining if a landlord is liable after someone is injured while at a rental space, the key is often very simple: What did the landlord know, and when did he or she know it?

Obviously, landlords can't know everything instantly about a rental space. If a handrail on the front steps breaks one morning, no one tells the landlord and then another tenant is hurt that afternoon, the landlord may not be liable. He or she had no idea there was a danger and so not fixing that danger is not negligence in most cases.

Of course, this changes if the landlord did know of the risk. Did the tenants complain about poor maintenance, saying they thought the rail was going to break soon? Did the landlord continue to neglect the property or do subpar repairs?

Things are more dire when the landlord knew of a clear danger. For instance, maybe the handrail actually broke three months ago. A tenant called the landlord right away, and the landlord didn't answer. The tenant left a voicemail and called again the next day.

The landlord said he or she would get it fixed, but then did nothing for months. No inspections were done, no repairs were made and the landlord didn't even put up signs or caution tape to tell people there was a risk. When someone finally, inevitably got hurt, it was clear that the accident could have been avoided.

Were you injured because of a negligent landlord who knew the risks and did nothing? If so, it's important to understand what legal rights you may have to financial compensation.

Source: AllBusiness.com, "Am I Liable for Injuries Sustained on My Rental Property?," accessed Aug. 23, 2017

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