Are You Liable for Personal Injury in Tenant's Space?

SITUATION: A tenant leases property to operate a car wash. The lease requires the tenant to keep the property in good repair. The actual language:

The Tenant shall keep the Demised premises in good condition and repair . . . the tenant, at its sole cost and expense, will take good care of the Demised Premises . . . and will keep the same in good order and condition and make all necessary repairs thereto, interior and exterior, ordinary and extraordinary, foreseen and unforeseen.

The lease also bans the tenant from making any substantial alterations to the property without the landlord’s prior written consent.

While working at the property, one of the tenant’s employees trips on a loose brick and suffers serious injuries. He can’t sue the tenant because the injury is work related and thus subject to the workers’ comp bar on workers’ lawsuits against their employers. So, he sues the landlord for negligently failing to maintain the property in a safe condition.

QUESTION: Does the employee have a valid negligence claim against the landlord?

A.            Yes, because failing to fix the loose brick was a clear act of negligence.

B.            Yes, because the landlord’s right to approve substantial alterations demonstrates its control over the property.

C.            No, because the landlord wasn’t in possession or control of the property.

D.            No, because the landlord isn’t responsible for the health and safety of a tenant’s employee.

 

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