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Landlord General Obligations Summarized By Injury Attorney

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Landlord General Obligations.  For more information on landlords see the pages on Wikipedia.

Brought to you courtesy of Brien Roche Law of Fairfax, Virginia, assisting many with their premises liability litigation needs.

Landlord General Obligations-Statutes

See Va. Code § 8.01-226.12 as to mold cases.
See Va. Code § 55-248.13 indicating that landlord is to maintain fit premises.
See Va. Code § 55-248.13, which states that landlord is required to keep common areas of premises in structurally safe condition.

Landlord General Obligations-Cases

2012 Steward v. Holland Family Properties, 284 Va. 282, 726 S.E.2d 251.

It is alleged that infant was exposed to lead paint in rental houses resulting in permanent injury. The complaint alleges that the landlords of both premises are liable for these injuries based on negligence per se, common law negligence, Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, and building code provisions. Trial court properly held that tort duty with regard to tenants of leased properties is not imposed upon the landlord.

2007 Isbell v. Commercial Inv. Assocs., 273 Va. 605, 644 S.E.2d 72.

Plaintiff sued for personal injury sustained when he fell down slippery stairs located in an apartment that he leased from the defendant. The common law rule that a landlord is not liable in tort for tenants personal injury caused by the landlord’s failure to repair premises under the tenant’s control and possession has not been abrogated by the Landlord/Tenant Act.

2000 Wohlford v. Quesenberry, 259 Va. 259, 523 S.E.2d 821.<

BOCA code has not modified common-law rule that tenant who has exclusive possession and control of premises, absent agreement to contrary, is responsible for its maintenance and repair. Trial court properly granted demurrer to claim made by tenant on theory that tenant was the person in control and not the landlord.<

1999 Southeast Apartments Mgmt., Inc. v. Jackman, 257 Va. 256, 513 S.E.2d 395.

Maintenance employee of apartment complex entered plaintiff’s apartment and unlawfully touched her. Plaintiff filed suit for negligent hiring and negligent retention, both of which are causes of action that are recognized in Virginia. Negligent hiring claim is based upon harm resulting from employer’s conduct if employer is negligent in hiring of improper person in work involving unreasonable risk of harm to others. Negligent retention claim is based on principle that employer owning leased premises is subject to liability for harm resulting from negligence in retaining dangerous employee who employer knew or should have known was dangerous and likely to harm tenants. Plaintiff failed to make out claim under either theory. Employer in this case received detailed application from employee, did background check, gave tests that were independently graded yet nothing in that indicated that employee was dangerous. There was no criminal background check done but that was not required. There were no facts within the application process that would have alerted employer to possibility of employee engaging in assault on tenant. There was suspicion, during course of employment, that employee had alcohol or drug problem and may have had an attraction for single women but this did not render this 31-year-old single male a dangerous employee and one likely to commit sexual assaults. Verdict in favor of plaintiff was set aside.

1992 Holland v. Shively, 243 Va. 308, 415 S.E.2d 222.

Tenant not guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law when she walks across porch that affords only practicable access to yard even though she knows porch in bad condition. Jury issue presented as to contributory negligence and assumption of risk.

1990 Love v. Schmidt, 239 Va. 357, 389 S.E.2d 707.

If duty to maintain premises in safe condition is imposed by contract or law, it cannot be delegated to independent contractor.

1987 Kesler v. Allen, 233 Va. 130, 353 S.E.2d 777.

Times New Roman;”>Landlord general obligations.Landlord hired independent contractor to install door. Contractor installed obstacle in doorway because door he had did not fit. After contractor had left, tenant returned home and in dark did not see obstacle and tripped over it. As general rule, owner who employs independent contractor is not liable for injuries to third persons caused by contractor’s negligence. Exceptions exist, and doctrine of respondent superior may become applicable if independent contractor’s torts arise directly out of his use of dangerous instrumentality, arise out of work that is inherently dangerous, or wrongful per se, are nuisances or are such that it would in natural course of events produce injury unless special precautions were taken. Evidence in this case does not bring installation of storm door within any of these exceptions and as such general rule applies.

1986 Appalachian Power Co. v. Sanders, 232 Va. 189, 349 S.E.2d 101.

Landlord general obligations.On owner’s surrender of control of premises to his lessee, absent any warranty of their condition or fraudulent concealment of known defects, or agreement to repair, owner is not liable to lessee or his invitees for defects known to lessee or which he could have discovered by reasonable inspection and invitee stands in shoes of lessee with respect to his right to recover from lessor. Lessee, as possessor and occupant of leased premises, owes same duty to its invitees as owner owes to his own invitees. Each is chargeable with constructive as well as actual knowledge of condition of property.

1986 Harbour Enters, v. Ferro, 231 Va. 71, 340 S.E.2d 818.

Landlord general obligations not make landlord liable for negligent or willful acts of tenants or tenant’s employees. In this case, landlord not liable for acts of tenant’s employee even though landlord had allowed his ABC license to hang in tenant’s business premises.

1983 Kings Mkts. v. Yeatts, 226 Va. 174, 307 S.E.2d 249.

Landlord general obligations.Lessee is not entitled to indemnity from lessor, there being evidence that lessee had undertaken lessor’s duty to keep area in safe condition, it being in lessee’s economic interest to do so. Jury verdict in favor of plaintiff against lessee only was affirmed. Lessor found not liable.

1976 Monterey Corp. v. Hart, 216 Va. 843, 224 S.E.2d 142.

Lease exempted tenant from liability for accidental fire. Under common law, tenant is not liable for damage to premises resulting from fire that is not consequence of tenant’s own negligence; therefore, lease must be interpreted as exempting tenant from her own negligence, otherwise it simply restates common-law rule.

1974 Gulf Reston, Inc. v. Rogers, 215 Va. 155, 207 S.E.2d 841.<

Landlord general obligations.Landlord is not insurer of tenant’s safety and as general rule, does not owe tenant duty to protect tenant from intentional, deliberate, or criminal act by third person. In determining whether duty exists, likelihood of injury, magnitude of burden of guarding against it, and consequences of placing burden on defendant must be taken into account. Imposition of duty does not depend on foreseeability.

1973 Gumenick v. United States, 213 Va. 510, 193 S.E.2d 788.

Landlord general obligations include duty to maintain porch and railings in reasonable state of repair. Landlord had full authority and duty to make reasonable inspections. In exercise of ordinary care, defective condition could have been discovered and repaired.

1972 Aragona Enters, v. Miller, 213 Va. 298, 191 S.E.2d 804.

Plaintiff’s decedent infant fell into drainage ditch near apartment building and received injuries which proved fatal. Landlord general obligations not make him liable to tenant or members of tenant’s family, whether adult or infant, for injury resulting from open and obvious condition existing at inception of tenancy and which tenant knew or had means of knowing equal to landlord.

1967 Paytan v. Rowland, 208 Va. 24, 155 S.E.2d 36.

Landlord general obligations do not include duty to maintain, in safe condition any part of leased premises in exclusive control of tenant. As to common areas, landlord has obligation to use ordinary care to maintain in reasonably safe condition.

1966 Wells v. Whitaker, 207 Va. 616, 151 S.E.2d 422.

Landlord general obligations. Landlord reserved no control or right to direct operation of plant on leased land and since plant did not constitute nuisance, landlord was in no way responsible for plaintiff’s damages. Discussion of liability of landlord for acts of tenant.

1966 Langhorne Rd. Apts., Inc. v. Bisson, 207 Va. 474, 150 S.E.2d 540.

Landlord general obligations include duty to maintain in safe condition those parts of premises which he reserves for common use of tenants; it follows that it is his duty to use reasonable care to remove accumulations of ice and snow from walkways so reserved within reasonable time after storm ceases.

1965 Wagman v. Boccheciampe, 206 Va. 412, 143 S.E.2d 907.<

Landlord general obligations include implied duty to use ordinary care to keep common areas in reasonably safe condition. Lease forbids children playing on stairway. Infant plaintiff injured while playing on handrail. Handrail was being put to use not intended, therefore no negligence.

1953 Atlantic Rural Exposition, Inc. v. Fagan, 195 Va. 13, 77 S.E.2d 368.

Owner leased racetrack to promoter. Both would be liable to spectator for unsafe condition on premises known by lessor to exist at time of leasing or which could have been known by reasonable inspection and which tenant knowingly allowed to continue.

1951 Oliver v. Cashin, 192 Va. 540, 65 S.E.2d 571.

Guest and invitees of tenant stand in tenant’s shoes and thus, duties and liabilities of landlord are same as to both. On owner’s surrender of control of premises to his lessee, in absence of any warranty of their condition or fraudulent concealment of known defects or agreement to repair, he is not liable to lessee or his invitees for defects known to lessee or which he could have discovered through reasonable inspection.

1951 Revell v. Deegan, 192 Va. 428, 65 S.E.2d 543.

Landlord general obligations include implied duty to keep common areas in reasonably safe condition. Actual or constructive knowledge on part of landlord of defect causing injury, is necessary to render him liable. If careful inspection by landlord or his agent has failed to reveal defect, landlord will thereby be relieved of liability.

1949 Luedtke v. Phillips, 190 Va. 207, 56 S.E.2d 80.

Landlord general obligations.If landlord, after having delivered possession to tenant, enters to make repairs, whether voluntarily or by agreement, he must use reasonable care in making them. Lessor is under no implied covenant to repair, or keep in repair, demised premises.

1947 Gallagher v. Stathis, 186 Va. 444, 43 S.E.2d 33.

Landlord general obligations.Legislature, in enacting laws regulating tenement life, had uppermost in their minds, care of those unable to care for themselves. Fact that tenant knows landlord is in violation of statute does not make defense of contributory negligence or assumption of risk applicable.

1947 Kavanaugh v. Donovan, 186 Va. 85, 41 S.E.2d 489.

There is obligation on tenant to leave premises in such manner that no substantial injury is done to them through any negligence or willful conduct. Tenant is liable for the resultant damages.

1946 Caudill v. Gibson Fuel Co., 185 Va. 233, 38 S.E.2d 465.

Landlord general obligations.At common law, lessor is under no implied covenant to repair or keep in repair premises. Where right of possession passes to tenant and there is no concealment or fraud by landlord as to some defect in premises, known to him but unknown to tenant, then tenant takes premises as is, assuming all risk of injury from defects therein. Agreement by landlord to repair does not affect this rule.

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Landlord General Obligations Summarized By Injury Attorney

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