Landlords, like all property owners, have a duty to ensure that the houses and apartments they rent to tenants are safe. Whether it is the driveway being plowed after a snowstorm or handling potentially dangerous maintenance issues, tenants often have certain expectations for their landlord. If a person is hurt because of their landlord’s negligence, Indiana law allows them to hold the landlord liable for their injuries.
In a recent state appellate opinion, the court was tasked with deciding whether a landlord could be held liable for a tenant’s slip and fall outside of the apartment complex. According to the court’s opinion, the tenant was severely injured exiting the apartment building, slipping on a patch of ice in the driveway. While the landlord normally hired a snow plow contractor to keep the driveway safe, they failed to do so this particular winter. The plaintiff sued his landlord for not keeping the property safe and not removing the snow and ice from the driveway, the cause of his injury.
In this case, the court noted that a tenant who slips on ice can bring a negligence claim against a landlord who failed to exercise reasonable care in removing the ice, unless the plaintiff is more than fifty percent responsible for their injuries. Here, the court ruled that the landlord was negligent as he did not attempt to remove the snow or ice. However, the court also held that the tenant’s injuries were more attributable to his own error than the landlord’s. Thus, the court found that the landlord was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.