What if damage occurs to a guest of a tenant? The Supreme Court of Ohio decision which holds landlords responsible to maintain common areas safe and sanitary FOR TENANTS GUESTS seems obvious on the face. Afterall, if common areas are safe for tenants they are also safe for guests. The fact that the SC was unambitious in this decision is a sign that the conclusion was obvious. But the fact that the SC ruled that guests have rights under this portion of the OLLTL holds a greater significance for the future. Here's the Dispatch article and I'm attaching a copy of the "slip" decision of the court at the bottom of this page.
The Columbus Dispatch • Wednesday February 12, 2014 2:13 PM Ohio landlords have the same obligation to their tenants’ guests as they do to the tenants themselves to keep their premises safe and sanitary, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today. Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Paul E. Pfeifer said, “a landlord owes to a tenant’s guest the same duty that the landlord owes a tenant. Thus, a landlord owes a tenant, and therefore the tenant’s guest, the duty to “[k]eep all common areas of the premises in a safe and sanitary condition” as required by Ohio law.
Landlord liable for damages? Maybe, if landlord knows of a problem and fails to correct it resulting in damages to the tenant. Two key cases
Carlos Sivit, et al. v. Village Green of Beachwood, L.P., et al. http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/Clerk/ecms/resultsbycasenumber.asp?year=2013&number=0586 Mann v. Northwood http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/0/2014/2014-Ohio-455.pdf
landlord knows there is a problem and fails to correct the problem
Problem (or defect) causes damages to a tenant
tenant can sue to recover actual and punative damages within limits
What's going on?
Can tenant show that landlord had actual knowledge of a problem or defect. Examples: housing inspection report, previous requests for repair.
Can tenant document actual damages? bills for costs incurred by tenant because of the damage
was damage to tenant in whole or in part due to a circumstance outside the landlord's control, eg. weather conditions?
was the damage suffered by a group who could potentially share the costs of an attorney or mount a class action?