Does Your Landlord Need to Have Knowledge of a Hazardous Condition to Be Liable for Injury?
In order for a tenant to hold their Florida landlord liable for their injury that occurred at the rental property, it must be proven that the landlord had knowledge of the hazardous condition that caused the accident.
However, is the landlord’s knowledge of the dangerous condition always mandatory? If so, how does a tenant prove that their residential landlord was aware or should have been aware of the hazard?
Florida Landlords Have a Duty to Maintain the Rental Property
Under Florida law, landlords are obligated to discover, identify, and remedy hazardous conditions on their property. It is prohibited by law to rent an apartment or another rental space to a tenant and then ignore what is happening at the property until the lessee moves out.
Landlords have a continuing obligation to inspect their rental property even after a tenant moves in. When necessary, landlords must make repairs to remedy dangerous conditions. In other words, your landlord has a duty to conduct regular maintenance, just like any other business or property owner.
Rental Property Accidents Caused by a Dangerous Condition
Under Florida law, a landlord cannot be shielded from liability just because he or she did not have actual knowledge of the injury-causing condition. Time and time again, Florida courts have held that landlords can be liable for tenants’ injuries if they had constructive knowledge of a situation that occurred with regularity, or, in other words, was foreseeable.
So, even if a landlord had no actual knowledge of the cause of the tenant’s injury, they must take reasonable precautions to maintain their property. The landlord might be presumed to have had constructive knowledge of the hazard if the condition existed long enough before the accident.
However, landlords may still have a valid defense by arguing that the tenant never told them about the hazardous condition or that he/she could not have been aware of the hazard. If that is the case, a landlord-tenant dispute may arise.
Taking your case to court may be worth it because the law may impose knowledge on your landlord or “construct” knowledge to hold the landlord liable for any harm that their lack of action caused to tenants. A court may decide that the landlord could have discovered the hazardous condition had he or she exercised reasonable care or used diligence.
How to Prove Your Landlord’s Constructive Knowledge?
Generally, there are two ways a tenant can prove their landlord’s constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition:
- Demonstrate that the condition existed for such a long time that the landlord should have discovered it before the accident occurred; or
- Demonstrate that the condition was foreseeable or occurred with regularity (in other words, its recurrence was predictable).
If you were injured on your rental property, discuss your legal options by speaking with our West Palm Beach landlord-tenant litigation attorneys. Your landlord might be ordered to compensate for your injury if it was caused by a condition that the landlord knew or should have known about. Contact Pike & Lustig, LLP, to learn about rights as a tenant in Florida. Call at 561-291-8298 for a consultation.