According to data from the U.S. Census, Philadelphia has an owner-occupied housing rate of 52 percent. That means there are a lot of rentals in the city, and a lot of tenants using them. When those tenants become hurt on their rental property, are they to blame, or their landlord? If the accident resulting in injury was the landlord’s fault, can tenants sue to claim compensation? In Pennsylvania, the answer is that it depends.
There are several factors that determine when a tenant can sue in Pennsylvania. Tenants that aren’t sure whether they have a claim should speak to a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney right away.
Where did the Injury Occur?
Generally speaking, landlords only have a responsibility to maintain safe conditions in common areas of the building, or immovable parts of the building. This means they must maintain spaces such as elevators, lobbies, laundry rooms, gyms, and shared hallways. They must also maintain electrical and fire safety systems, as well as comply with other building codes. If, for example, you tripped over a rug you purchased, and you were in your own rental unit, the landlord is not liable because they were not responsible for that rug, or the harm it caused.
How Long did the Unsafe Condition Exist?
In Pennsylvania, property owners are expected to repair or correct unsafe conditions on their property within a reasonable amount of time. This means if a handrail broke in a stairwell in an apartment complex, the landlord is responsible for fixing it. However, they are not expected to repair an unsafe condition as soon as it happens. The law recognizes that it takes some time to identify the problem, and then correct it. Unfortunately, the law does not specify the exact amount of time landlords have to fix a problem.
It’s important to understand though, that even when an unsafe condition exists, the landlord must warn tenants and guests about it. A sign posted is enough to warn individuals the handrail is broken. If a landlord failed to do that, they could be considered negligent. If the landlord posted the sign and you used the handrail anyway, the landlord is not liable for your injuries.
How Long Ago did Your Injury Occur?
If the accident that caused your injury occurred more than two years ago, you are likely barred from receiving compensation. This is due to the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania, which only provides accident victims with two years from the date of injury to file a claim. While there are some exceptions to this rule, the courts will almost always throw out a claim on which the statute has expired. If more than two years have passed since your injury, speak to an attorney that can determine if you still have a valid claim.
Injured on Rental Property? Call a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were injured on your rental property, you need the help of a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim. We know the responsibilities landlords have to their tenants, and we’ll hold them accountable when they have failed to keep their buildings safe. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online so we can begin reviewing your case.