A tenant who slips on ice or snow often wants to know if their landlord can be held liable. The answer depends on several factors, such as:
- the type of landlord (in possession versus out of possession),
- where the accident occurred,
- how the accident happened,
- the amount of snow/ice on the ground, and
- the weather conditions in the days leading up to the accident.
Landlords in Possession versus Landlords Out of Possession
Pennsylvania fall down accident law makes a distinction between landlords in possession and those out of possession. As a general rule, fall accident cases against landlords in possession have a better chance of success than those against landlords out of possession. Therefore, a tenant who is injured in a snow/ice accident should discuss their case with a fall accident lawyer to determine viability of the case.
Landlords in Possession
Landlords in possession retain some portion of the premises, for example, by having an office on the premises. Landlords of large apartment complexes are almost always considered landlords in possession because they have multiple offices on the premises, such as a maintenance office and rental or management office.
In Pennsylvania, landlords in possession (i.e., apartment complex landlords) have a duty to provide reasonable maintenance of common areas of the premises, which generally includes sidewalks, parking lots, stairways, entryways to apartment buildings, etc. While landlords are not required to keep common areas completely free of all snow and ice, they may be liable for unreasonably dangerous conditions.
In Pennsylvania, landlords in possession are required to conduct reasonable inspections of the common areas for defects, including dangerous accumulations of snow and ice. For example, a landlord may be liable in a situation when the apartment complex employees failed to inspect a common area like a sidewalk, which led to a slip and fall accident. Therefore, tenants and guests of tenants, who are injured in snow/ice fall accidents which occur in common areas, may have valid lawsuits against their landlords.
Landlords Out of Possession
On the other hand, landlords out of possession do not retain any portion of the premises. An example of a landlord out of possession is one who rents a single family home to a tenant. In this situation, the landlord does not usually retain any portion of the premises, and the law recognizes this. Accordingly, in Pennsylvania, it is more difficult for a tenant to succeed in a snow/ice accident case against a landlord who is out of possession.
However, landlords in possession are not completely immune from tenants’ snow/ice accidents on rental premises such as a single family home. A landlord may be liable in a situation when the landlord knows of a defect which contributes to unreasonable conditions of snow/ice and fails to warn the tenant of the condition. For example, a landlord could be liable for injuries caused by a condition of the property, such as a leaking gutter, which led to accumulations of snow or ice and the condition was not one which the tenant could have uncovered.
Regardless of whether the landlord is in possession or out of possession, the key in winning a slip and fall lawsuit is proving that the landlord either had actual notice of the condition or should have known about the condition.
Suggested Reading: Pennsylvania Snow & Ice Fall Accident Law – Melt/Re-Freeze Situations
Pennsylvania Slip & Fall Accident Lawyer. 800.220.7600
If you are a tenant and suffered injury in a snow/ice accident, please call 800.220.7600 for a free consultation.
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.