Tenant is renting a main floor apartment, trips on steps leading to the front door and injures themselves and will be off work. Who has liability here?
There are basically only two possibilities here: the Landlord and the Tenant. It is possible to blame the Contractor who installed the steps as well as the Inspector from the City who passed them, or failed to follow up after not passing them, but those situations are very remote and very rare.
Who was in control of the outside steps? If this were a residential premises involving the entire building then the Tenant is likely the one in control here. If it is a multi-plex, then we likely have the Landlord in control. Possession and control are key issues. The Occupiers Liability Act supersedes the Residential Tenancies Act and imposes a greater duty than the common law. The apportionment rules under the Negligence Act will also apply.
So, if the steps were there for years and used thousands of times, it is very difficult for the Tenant to blame the Landlord. The Tenant’s conduct must also be examined, for example, they were preoccupied and not paying attention, carrying groceries and could not see the steps, wore loose sandals, were intoxicated by alcohol or drugs (prescription or otherwise) etc. and they had the easy ability to avoid falling.
Weather conditions are also factors. It snows in Canada in the wintertime. The occupier of the premises is entitled to the opportunity to shovel the snow. Basically, that means 24 hours or so, if it is a residence, but possibly an hour if the premises happened to be a commercial grocery store.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker