Aside from pre-injury releases, injury lawyer Brien Roche reports Courts have begun to deal with indemnity provisions in landlord/tenant situations. In a recent Virginia Trial Court decision the Court dealt with a residential lease where the landlord was seeking to enforce an indemnification clause in the lease. The indemnity clause in the lease required the tenant to indemnify the landlord for damages caused by the landlord’s negligence. The Court found that provision to be unenforceable under the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. In this particular instance, the tenant lost his property when the house in question caught fire after the landlord removed the apparatus for ashes and covererd the opening below the hearth with flammable material.
The Court found that the indemnity provision within the lease was shocking.
The Court noted that pre-injury release provisions are contrary to public policy and therefore void. The Court further noted that there was no arms length negotiation and that the tenant was not a willing indemnitor. The Court found that this was simply a subterfuge designed to avoid public policy.
The Court further relied upon specific provisions within the Landlord Tenant Act that say that a rental agreement shall not contain a provision whereby a tenant agrees to the exculpation or limitation of any liability of the landlord to the tenant arising under law.