Georgia landlord liability for injuries on leased residential premises

The landlord of a house was not liable for the injuries of a postal worker sustained when the postman tried to get away from a vicious dog owned by the house's renter, held the Court of Appeals of Georgia in 2012. Georgia statute states that when a landlord is not in possession of rental property, his or her liability is limited to those damages from "defective construction" or from failure to "keep the premises in repair."

Premises liability

The area of law that governs a landlord's responsibility to keep people safe from injury on property that has been rented or leased to a tenant is called premise's liability , which is mostly governed by state law.

The Georgia statute states further that the landlord is not liable to third parties for harm from the tenant's negligence or "illegal use of the premises." In the postal worker's case, the presence of a potentially dangerous dog by the mailbox suggested the tenant's dog care may have been negligent, but the situation with the pet had nothing to do with defects in construction or the landlord's failure to repair.

Defective construction

The first type of liability of an off-premises landlord for injury on the premises is from defective construction. For example, a landlord who built a rental structure him or herself or had it built under his or her supervision and who knew that safety corners had been cut or that the building did not comply with safety codes or accepted construction standards would be responsible for injury from the shoddy construction.

For example, if an uneven floor from poor construction caused someone to slip and fall, the landlord would be potentially responsible for resulting injuries.

Similarly, if the landlord bought a pre-existing building and was told about construction problems or could have reasonably discovered them, he or she could also be liable for injuries from not correcting the defective construction conditions.

Failure to repair

The second type of absentee-landlord liability in Georgia is for injury from the failure to keep the premises in repair. If such a property owner ignored rental property and let it lapse into disrepair, did not respond to tenant requests for repair or having been otherwise put on notice of needed repairs, or would have seen the need for repairs with reasonable inspection, he or she would normally be liable for injuries resulting from the landlord's neglect of the duty to repair.

Negligent security

Georgia premise's liability laws also create a property owner duty to "exercise ordinary care" to keep premises and approaches to premises "safe" for people legally there. This statute may come into play in the area of law known as negligent security.

For example, a landlord who is aware of a high crime rate in a neighborhood or of previous crimes in the common areas of a rental building may be liable if a tenant or lawful guest were the victim of a violent crime on the premises if the landlord did not see that windows and doors in the building had sufficient locks or that an adequate security system was installed.

Seek legal advice for injuries or deaths on Georgia residential rental property

Georgia premise's liability laws are complicated and landlord liability can turn on complex factual situations. Anyone injured on leased property like a rental house, apartment building, leased townhouse or condominium should speak as soon as possible with an experienced Georgia premises liability attorney. A skilled personal injury lawyer can launch an investigation into the matter and advise the victim of potential legal recourse.