Are you renting a property in Australia? If yes, do you know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant? How about your landlord’s?
As a renter, you have the right to a safe and secure property for as long as your rental agreement is in effect, while your landlord is responsible for ensuring your safety by making sure his property is safe and well-maintained throughout your stay. But what if one day, you got injured while going down the defective stairs of his rental property? Can you hold your landlord accountable for your injury and make a claim?
Not an easy question to answer, but there is a defined answer to that.
In this article from Turner Freeman Lawyers, one of the best personal injury lawyers out there, you will discover what compensation you are entitled to receive if you got injured due to a faulty rental property.
Is your landlord responsible for your safety as a tenant?
By law, yes. It is your landlord’s duty to ensure that you are safe and secure while renting his property. Depending on the injury you sustained and how you sustained it, you can make a compensation claim from your landlord. Before you make this claim, however, you must be able to prove the following:
- That the rental property is defective and does not fully comply with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia
- That your landlord deliberately refused to repair the defects of his rental property despite knowing about it
- That your landlord did not take any action to prevent your risk of injury
What should you do if you get injured?
If you got caught in an accident while within the premises of the property you are renting, the first thing you need to do is to seek medical treatment for your injuries. After that, let your landlord know about the accident.
But where does his liability come in?
Remember that your landlord has a duty of care to make sure that you and his other tenants are safe from harm. That means if you ever get injured due to the poor maintenance of his rental property or it being faulty, he should be liable to you. In fact, he is also responsible for whatever injury a visitor may sustain due to any fault in his rental property!
For someone who may not be conversant with the law, you may wonder if your landlord being liable to you means that you can make a claim in this situation. Well, yes. Whether you are a tenant or a visitor, you can make a public liability claim as long as you incur the injuries in or around the faulty or poorly maintained rental property of your landlord.
To make a successful claim, however, you should be able to establish the fact that you sustained the injury due to his negligence. But how do you establish the concept of negligence?
Under this legal concept, the court can hold your landlord liable to you even if he did not intend any harm. You can establish his negligence by proving that he failed to act reasonably under the circumstances despite foreseeing that his act—or failure to act—could lead to an accident or injury on your part. The court usually evaluates the following factors to determine if a landlord was negligent and could be held liable for an accident that occurred in his rental property:
- His control over the situation
Legally speaking, your landlord is obligated to maintain and repair whatever defects his rental property may have. That means if you got an injury after falling off a damaged or poorly constructed property, he should be liable to you.
- His knowledge of a hidden danger
If his rental property has features he knew could be dangerous—such as an uneven floor or a hole hidden under a rug—but did not notify you about it, he could also be held liable. As a landlord, it is his duty to notify his tenants about such dangerous conditions so they could protect themselves.
- The foreseeability of an accident
When he foresees something that could cause an injury, he should take measures necessary to prevent those injuries, or at least direct his tenants to be cautious. However, there are instances when your landlord may not be held responsible, such as in the case of freak accidents. You know, you can’t blame your landlord for the peeling wallpaper of his rental property if you got your injury after slipping on the floor!
- The cost and feasibility of reducing danger
Usually, courts hold landlords responsible when a simple and reasonably priced precaution could have prevented the dangerous situation. Case in point: Applying a bright stripe paint on an unexpected step. In that case, the court could consider him negligent since the risk of danger so greatly outweighs the burden of mitigation.
What compensation can you claim for an injury in a rental property?
Now that you know that your landlord may be held accountable for your injury, you are probably wondering what compensation you can claim following the accident. Well, that will depend on many factors, including the injury you suffered and how it affects you as the claimant.
When you got into an accident and got injured in a rental property, the compensation can include both economic and non-economic harm. If you got hospitalized after the accident, lost your job or was permanently disabled due to it, the court may obligate your landlord to pay for these economic damages, including your medical bills and the costs of your future treatment. He may also be responsible for the non-economic damages, including your subjective pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, even the emotional distress you suffered following the accident.
When it comes to the non-economic damages, the court may find it hard to prove the liability of your landlord. However, your doctor’s prescriptions for pain medication and his testimony can help corroborate your claims.
In some cases though, your landlord may claim that you were partly at fault for causing the accident. He may claim you did not pay attention to your surroundings, or you were distracted that’s why you got injured. If the court proves this, then this can result in a reduction of your damages, and the degree to which it will be reduced will depend on where you’re filing for the claim.