Can I Be Sued if Someone Falls on My Rented Property?

Can I Be Sued if Someone Falls on My Rented Property

“Can a tenant can be held liable to someone who falls and was injured on their rented property?” This was the central issue in a recent Superior Court of Justice decision of Mohebbi v. Yassobi et al., 2021 ONSC 2395 (CanLII).

In this case, the tenant’s friend slipped and fell on the ice while visiting his home, which was a rented property. The landlord argued that the tenant was entirely responsible for the maintenance and snow removal on the premises. The tenant argued that according to the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords are responsible for maintenance of the property they own, and that this responsibility cannot be transferred to the tenant as it is prohibited under the Residential Tenancies Act.

The landlord argued that section 33 of the Residential Tenancy Act applied. That section provides as follows “The tenant is responsible for ordinary cleanliness of the rental unit, except to the extent that the tenancy agreement requires the landlord to clean it.” The landlord argued that the tenant should be responsible for the fall.

The tenant relied on section 20 of the Residential Tenancies Act which among other things, provides that “the duty to maintain the snow and ice at the Subject Premises falls to the landlord”.

The injury victim (Plaintiff) relied on the Residential Tenancies Act arguing that both the tenant and landlord were responsible to ensure the property was safe. The Plaintiff also relied on the Occupiers’ Liability Act which provides that owners and occupiers are responsible for the care, custody and control of the area where the fall occurred. 

The judge hearing the motion refused to dismiss the action against the landlord. The judge stated in part as follows: “while the Defendants’ arguments on this motion were focused on who was responsible for snow and ice removal at the premises as between the tenants and the landlord, the Plaintiff’s allegations of negligence are not restricted to the presence of ice or snow on the porch.  It is possible that factors other than ice could be found to have contributed to the fall of the Plaintiff.  The apportionment of liability between the tenants and the landlord for such other factors was not argued before me and remains an open issue until the cause of the fall has been determined or formally admitted”.

In the end, the Judge left it open for tenants, in certain circumstances, to be held responsible for injuries sustained by persons attending their rented property. For instance, the Judge mentioned that there are other ways persons may be injured on a property that is rented which may not be the responsibility of a landlord and as such an injury victim may claim damages from a tenant who may be responsible. Examples are poor lighting, holes on the property’s driveway or grounds, and the presence of objects posing a hazard. An analysis of how the injured person fell and was injured will determine the cause of the accident and injury and could be determinative of whether the tenant is liable, the landlord is liable, or both the tenant and landlord are jointly liable.

Insights from Your Ottawa Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are a tenant, you may ponder over this question, “Can I be sued if someone falls on my rented property?” The answer is yes, it is possible.

Your Ottawa personal injury lawyers will tell you that as a tenant, while general maintenance of the property is the responsibility of the landlord, care should nevertheless be taken to ensure the property you rent is safe at all times. Landlords are not responsible for all aspects of keeping a property safe. Tenants should purchase tenant’s insurance to protect against possible claims, including slip and fall accidents. Tenant’s insurance is relatively inexpensive and could save a tenant from having to pay significant legal bills to defend a court action and pay damages to an injury victim. If you are being sued by someone who fell on your rented property, request a free case evaluation today. At QTMG, we offer legal services in five other languages besides English, namely French, German, Hungarian, Spanish, Polish and Arabic.