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Lessor Can’t Pass the Buck to the Lessee

August 8, 2018

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In <a href=""><em>Bonnie</em> <em>Sanders v. Angela Dukes</em></a>, Sanders was staying with her friend on the second story of a rooming house in Philadelphia.  As Sanders left the room her shoe got caught in a loose metal strip on top of the staircase.  Dukes’ husband was the property manager for the rooming house, and went there monthly.  He never made any repairs to the stairs or the metal strip.  At the close of plaintiff’s case at trial, Dukes moved to dismiss arguing that the tenant (plaintiff’s friend) was aware of the dangerous condition, therefore, alleviated Dukes’ own liability for the condition. The court rejected the argument, and found that the Dukes, as the lessor was liable for a dangerous condition in the common area that could have been discovered by exercising reasonable care.  Since Sanders was a lawful guest, Dukes owed her a duty of care.
This case reminds us that a lessor often owes a duty of care to those that enter the premises, regardless of any duty owed by the lessee.
Thanks to Robert Turchik for his contribution to this post.


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