Are Maryland Landlords or Tenants Responsible for Premises Liability Claims?
Premises liability is a doctrine that exists within the boundaries of personal injury law in Maryland. This doctrine addresses the legal liability of property owners for injuries that occur on their premises. On a larger level, premises liability requires an owner to take reasonable steps to address dangerous conditions that exist on their property.
When an owner becomes a landlord by leasing their property to a tenant for residential or commercial use, the question of premises liability becomes more complex. At that point, liability ordinarily falls to the party in possession and control of the premises at the time a visitor sustains harm or injury.
Who Has Possession & Control of the Premises?
The Maryland courts have made it clear that premises liability flows from possession and control of the property in question. In this sense, it does not matter who owns the property. The party in possession and control of the property is normally responsible for reasonably foreseeable harm or injury.
From a legal standpoint, the concepts of possession and control are intrinsically linked. A party is deemed to have possession if they have an intent to control the property and the power to exclude others from using the property.
When is the Tenant Responsible for Premises Liability Claims?
When a landlord leases a property to a tenant, they surrender complete possession and control of the premises. Legally, this means that the tenant becomes the de-facto owner of the premises for the duration of the lease. As a result, the tenant becomes responsible for the condition of the premises throughout their lease agreement.
Once the landlord grants possession and control of the property, the tenant is legally responsible for the premises. Generally speaking, any potential claims of premises liability or similar actions would fall to the tenant, not the landlord.
When is the Landlord Responsible for Premises Liability Claims?
Even after a tenant has possession and control of a property, the landlord is not relieved of all duties related to premises liability. The landlord remains responsible for premises liability claims if:
- The landlord had control over a dangerous condition on the premises;
- The landlord knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition; and
- The dangerous condition was reasonably foreseeable; and
- The dangerous condition caused the harm or injury in question.
The Maryland courts have established a balancing test for determining whether the landlord should be liable. This test balances the landlord’s degree of control against the foreseeability of harm and the capacity to rectify the dangerous condition.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal help with a Maryland premises liability claim, it can be exceedingly beneficial to contact a seasoned Baltimore personal injury attorney. The attorneys at Iamele & Iamele, LLP feature a wealth of combined legal experience in the field of personal injury law, including premises liability claims. If you need legal help, contact us today for a free initial consultation.