Many people prefer renting over owning because the landlord retains maintenance responsibilities for many of the critical systems in an apartment or rental home. Whether you run a standalone, single-family home or one unit in a large building, when things go wrong with the furnace, the plumbing or the foundation, you know that you can call the landlord.

However, there are other kinds of maintenance that may seem like a gray area. For example, is your landlord responsible for repairing cracked or uneven sidewalk sections and cleaning up when tenants leave trash or other tripping hazards in the hallways, entrance ways and staircases? What happens if your landlord isn’t taking care of the shared spaces in or around your rental property? 

Alabama law makes landlords responsible for shared spaces

While there are occasionally terms in leases that delegate certain responsibilities, like lawn maintenance, to tenants, in the vast majority of rental scenarios, the landlord is the one responsible for cleaning, repairing and maintaining shared spaces.

Depending on the number of units and the behavior of tenants at the property, your landlord may need to perform daily, weekly or monthly inspections to make sure that everything is safe and clean. If your landlord isn’t proactive enough about maintenance, people could wind up getting hurt.

You could trip over a fast-food wrapper left in the stairway and tumble down, suffering severe injuries. Your child could hit an uneven section of sidewalk on their bike and knock out all of their front teeth. What can you do if you or someone you know gets hurt because of improper maintenance at your rental home?

Negligence can lead to premises liability claims

Knowing that your landlord has a responsibility to maintain the property and that a reasonable person would consider uneven sidewalk, fraying carpet or trash on the floor to be a safety hazard may lead you to think you have grounds to bring a claim against your landlord if you get hurt because they don’t properly maintain the properties.

Depending on the times of your lease, the nature of the incident and the severity of the injuries, you may be right. If proper maintenance would have prevented the issue, you may be able to seek compensation either by filing an insurance claim against your landlord’s policy or possibly even filing a premises liability claim against your landlord.