Landlords and other property owners have a duty of care to maintain their site in reasonably safe condition for those who enter lawfully. Landlords in particular have a statutory responsibility under F.S. 83.51 to maintain their premises, which involves compliance with all applicable building, housing and health codes and maintaining all structural components in good repair, capable of resisting normal forces, loads and plumbing. Florida law also requires the extermination of certain insects, including wood-destroying organisms.
Wood-destroying organisms, or more specifically, termites, were at the center of a recent defective staircase lawsuit in Rhode Island, where a woman fell through a stair board that had rotted through due to termites. She suffered a myriad of injuries and sued her landlord for damages. However, the trial court ruled in the landlord’s favor, finding plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence of actual or constructive notice of the defect. The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed.
We should point out that case law and statutes vary from state-to-state, but some of these same general provisions outlined in this case are applicable here in Florida too. Continue reading →