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I have a rental property in California. The tenants have

Customer Question

I have a rental property in California.

The tenants have 2 children that are mentally challenged and fall down the stairs easily. What can I do as a landlord to prevent, minimize risk of being sued?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

Thanks for your question.

Where are the stairs located in relation to the tenants? In other words, do the tenants have to use the stairs to access their unit?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The house is a 2 floor unit, so stairs are used to go to the 2nd floor. They are carpeted and their is a railing.

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
Ok, as they are internal, these sort of lawsuits always consider whether the pitch of the stairs is compliant with the current building code.

Since you already have carpet and a railing (is the railing on both sides of the stairs?) and if the stairs meet code, then you will not be held liable for any falls as a landlord, as the stairs are in a reasonably safe condition. A landlord is only liable for defects, thus if there is no defect (because the condition is reasonably safe) then there will be no liability.

To further insulate yourself, you could amend the rental agreement to require that any and all claims, including claims for personal injury related to the property, be brought in arbitration rather than in the courts. This would potentially save you money in a personal injury suit, and arbitrations are friendly forums to businesses.

Please let me know if you have further questions. Please also remember to rate my answer positively so that I am compensated by the website for my work on your question.

-ZDN
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ok, as they are internal, these sort of lawsuits always consider whether the pitch of the stairs is compliant with the current building code.


 


**** The house was bought brand new and no modifications have been made. Should an inspection be done regarding pitch (the stairs are flat)?

Since you already have carpet and a railing (is the railing on both sides of the stairs?) and if the stairs meet code, then you will not be held liable for any falls as a landlord, as the stairs are in a reasonably safe condition. A landlord is only liable for defects, thus if there is no defect (because the condition is reasonably safe) then there will be no liability.


 


*There is a railing on the side of the open area. The wall area I believe does not have a railing. Do you know if CA law states that both have to have one?


 


* How about loose carpet, should I check for that/eg. have an inspection?



To further insulate yourself, you could amend the rental agreement to require that any and all claims, including claims for personal injury related to the property, be brought in arbitration rather than in the courts. This would potentially save you money in a personal injury suit, and arbitrations are friendly forums to businesses.


 


* We would just notify the tenants of the amendment? Could this look like discrimination as this is being brought up based on seeing their kids who have balance issues falling down the stairs?


 


Thank you

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
To be absolutely sure you won't be held liable, having an inspector come in to look at the pitch and make sure it is up to code would be great.

In fact, any sort of positive action you take where you can show that you have done your best to make the stairs safe is very good.

CA law generally only provides for railing on one side, but if you put railing in on both sides, this would also go a long way towards insulating yourself from liability.

Loose carpet, loose wood on the stairs, etc, this should be inspected for at least twice a year to make sure that there is no need to repair a condition that could cause tripping.

Amending the contract to add in an arbitration clause is no discriminatory as it is not adverse to the tenant's rights. After all, they have to agree to the arbitration clause. If they refuse to sign it, and then you evicted them, then a possible FHA claim might come up. But that is not what I'm recommending. I simply think you should attempt the amendment and if they don't sign, then you know that they may be litigious and can reconsider on whether you want to renew the lease when it comes up again.
TexLaw, Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 4258
Experience: Lead Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks!

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
Glad to be of service. Please let me know if you need anything else and please remember to rate my answer positively so that I am compensated for my work by the website.

-ZDN

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