Landlords, If a Tenant Falls, You May Get Hurt

Landlords, If a Tenant Falls, You May Get Hurt

Sometimes landlords feel that the law treats them as parents and tenants as their children. Two cases earlier this year reinforce that.

The usual rule in “slip and fall” cases is that, if the defect is open and obvious, the fault lies with the person who slipped. Thus, if a person sees a parking lot is slippery and proceeds to walk across it anyway, if he ends up on the ground, a court will not hold the owner of the store/restaurant liable. If a patron steps into what he thinks is a dark bathroom and it is, in fact, a dark staircase, and suffers injuries, he will not be able to recover damages. If he had looked for signage or turned on the light before stepping in, he would have seen it was not a bathroom but a stairway.

Two recent court of appeals decisions remind us the rule is different for tenants. If a tenant slips on an ice-covered sidewalk, the “open and obvious” defense is not available to the landlord. Similarly if a tenant slips down steps he knew to be slippery, the landlord can still be held liable. This is because landlords have a separate duty under state law to keep the leased premises fit for their intended use. If the landlord knew of the problem and did not take prompt steps to fix it, the landlord can be liable, even if the tenant could also easily see the problem and proceeded anyway.

Landlords cannot ignore such problems, even if they are open and obvious to the tenants. Instead, landlords are expected to keep the leased premises fit for their intended use.


Cunningham Dalman, PC publishes this web site and its component parts to inform users about our firm, our attorneys and general new developments in the law. The web site and blogs are not intended as legal advice on any matter. There are many factors that may affect your situation. You should not act or refrain from acting because of information found here without first seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice from someone who is familiar with your particular circumstances.

In the operation of this web site and our blogs, we do not intend to create an attorney-client relationship with you and no such relationship shall be created by your use of this web site. Such a relationship can only be established to the extent an attorney at Cunningham Dalman, PC expressly agrees to undertake the relationship. Please do not communicate to us any information you regard as confidential unless and until we have established a formal attorney-client relationship with you. Any information you send to us before we establish an attorney client relationship may not be privileged or confidential. Information you send to us over the Internet may not be secure.

Our Practice Areas
Our Practice Areas

Recent Posts


Cunningham Dalman P.C.
PO Box 1767
321 Settlers Road
Holland, MI 49422-1767

Google Map


Best Law Firm 2023 - Best of the Best
Scroll to Top

Tell Us How We Can Help You

Send us a quick message or call us at 616.392.1821!

Seminar Registration

Fill in the form below to reserve your spot today for each person attending. If you have any questions, please call the office at 616.392.1821.

Call Now Button