Visitor Question

Landlord Question of Liability…

Submitted By: Bill (Tennessee)

A girl and her kids want to rent a house that is a split level with two staircases and balcony. The stairs and balcony have guardrails, but the kids are on disability because they have or have had seizures.

My question is, if the kids have an attack and fall down the steps or through the guardrails and hurt themselves, is the landlord responsible? If so, how would the landlord prevent a lawsuit? Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Bill,

Almost all states, counties, cities and villages have some form of planning and zoning regulations. Those regulations include the establishment of prescribed limits for the construction and maintenance of residences. Most of those regulations prescribe the requirements for the installation of stairs, banisters, and guardrails.

Contact the local planning and zoning department and ask them for the regulations for the installation of staircases, banisters and guardrails. See if the guardrails in the home comply with the local regulations. If they do comply with regulations the landlord will probably not be responsible for injuries related to any seizure attacks.

Here is the problem…

If the home and its staircase and guardrails do not meet the requirements you will be deemed to have knowledge of the regulation violation. Your legal duty then will have to be mitigation of possible damages. That means if you are aware of the danger and have some form of authority over the “girl and her kids” and you don’t remove them from the possible danger, and they thereafter are injured as a result of the violation, you, and possibly they, will not be able to successfully pursue a claim against the landlord.

So to answer your questions, if the landlord is in violation of the planning and zoning requirements she will be responsible. The girls and the kids, if aware of the danger and still not removing themselves, will probably not have a claim against the landlord.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: January 23, 2012

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