Let’s assume that you are a real estate agent and you have agreed to host an Open House for your client.
Who is responsible if someone falls on the slippery front step?
You are responsible since you have certain responsibilities imposed upon you under the Occupiers’ Liability Act.
It is possible that the homeowner will also be responsible. But, you are an “occupier”.
Who is an Occupier?
Under the Act,
(a) a person who is in physical possession of premises, or
(b) a person who has responsibility for and control over the condition of premises or the activities there carried on, or control over persons allowed to enter the premises,
despite the fact that there is more than one occupier of the same premises;”
So, if it suddenly became dangerous, you should shut down the open house in the middle of a storm.
3 (1) An occupier of premises owes a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and the property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises.
(2) The duty of care provided for in subsection (1) applies whether the danger is caused by the condition of the premises or by an activity carried on on the premises.
(3) The duty of care provided for in subsection (1) applies except in so far as the occupier of premises is free to and does restrict, modify or exclude the occupier’s duty.”
It would be wise to ensure that you have proper insurance coverage under an “all risks” liability insurance policy. You can have your own additional insurance.
Conduct at an Open House
Basically, you shouldn’t just let people wander around. You are personally responsible for their safety. So, look after them!
Naturally, a statement to the effect that “I was trying to sell the house to someone else at the time of the fall” is not a good defence.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker