Landlords and Premises Liability in Vermont

by | Jan 29, 2016 | Attorney

Just because a landlord rents out a piece of property doesn’t mean he or she is automatically liable for every accident that occurs in the home or apartment. A renter who slips and falls in the home has to prove certain conditions were true to collect compensation from the owner. Here’s more information about premises liability in Vermont, when it comes to landlord liability.

The Landlord Must Be Negligent

To be held liable for injuries caused by a slip and fall on the premises, the landlord must have breached its duty of care to the injured party in some way that lead to the plaintiff in the case being hurt.
For instance, landlords have a duty to keep their rental properties in good working order and could be held liable if they fail to make needed repairs and the tenants are injured as a result. However, the landlord has no such duty to trespassers. If someone enters the property uninvited by the landlord or the tenant and gets hurt, then it’s likely the landlord would not be required to pay for that person’s injuries.

Challenges to Negligence Claims

There are a couple of ways in which the landlord can counter an attempt to place liability for a slip and fall on him or her. One defense is that the landlord didn’t have a duty to the tenant. This is seen in cases where the lease absolves the landlord of certain responsibilities and places them squarely on the shoulders of the tenant. For example, the landlord may require the tenant to handle snow removal. If the tenant slips and falls in the snow, the person can’t sue the landlord because the rental lease removed the landlord’s duty to make sure the area was clear of snow.

Another way the landlord can get out of liability for a slip and fall is if the person didn’t know nor had reason to know about the condition that caused the accident. If the ceiling is leaking, for instance, and the tenant never relayed that information to the landlord, the tenant may be prohibited from collecting compensation after slipping in a puddle of water because the landlord didn’t know there was a problem.

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