Landlord couldn’t use lease to avoid personal injury lawsuits

A landlord can’t put a clause in a lease that says it won’t be liable if a tenant has a slip-and-fall injury, says the Idaho Supreme Court. The law on this issue varies from state to state, but the Idaho ruling is interesting and points out that landlords need to be very careful if they want to limit their responsibility for injuries.

The lease in this case said that the landlord was not liable for any slip-and-fall injuries either inside or outside the premises, or “from any other sources.” A tenant was walking between two buildings and fell into a sinkhole. The court said a landlord has a legal duty to use reasonable care to make sure leased premises are not hazardous to tenants. And it said that if the lease allowed the landlord to escape this duty, it was invalid.

The court said a landlord presumably could limit its liability in some ways. For instance, a lease probably could prevent lawsuits for injuries that were not caused by a lack of reasonable care on the landlord’s part. But the lease in this case went too far.

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