Erik Luthens


Once a tenant has taken full possession of a property, the owner is not held liable to third parties for negligence or illegal use of the property of the tenants that cause damages. The statutory obligation to exercise reasonable care and safety is only applicable if the landlord holds control over common areas, such as in an apartment complex, to which access is allowed to the tenants and others.

If damages are caused by defective construction (built by or under the direction of the owner/landlord) or in keeping the property in repair, they are also the responsibility of the landlord. Defects in construction completed before the owner/landlord purchased the property may still be the responsibility of the new owner if the defect was known, or should have been known by reasonable diligence if it causes injury. Contact a Iowa premises liability attorney representing clients in Nevada, Iowa today to schedule your initial consultation.

Often commercial tenants are held responsible for the duty to repair in their lease, releasing the owner of liability for injuries occurring on the property. Residential leases may not be assigned to the tenants. If the owner had prior knowledge of defects that may cause injury, the owner may not be able to avoid liability if the property is not repaired. If the landlord is notified of a broken lock on a tenant's door and fails to repair it, the landlord may be held liable for an ensuing burglary. Many defenses available to owners are used by landlords, the main one being proportional negligence of the tenant.

If the only safe or reasonable access for a tenant has a reported hazard in it, and both the owner and tenant know about the hazard, the landlord is not released from liability for damages. All building codes and ordinances governing safety, such as maintaining proper lighting in common areas, are the responsibility of the owner. Many premises liability lawsuits are being pursued due by tenants of apartment and condominium complexes because of inadequate security. Defective or inadequate door locks as well as latches are the number one complaint due to their lack of preventing crimes on the premises. Property owners need to be aware of risks associated with any type of property (rental, commercial or residential) to be able to minimize these risks. Security plans needs to be in constant use and accurate documentation needs to be kept current to assist in legally protecting the owner. General liability insurance does not cover civil action awards, and some states do not allow insurance companies to pay the punitive damages levied against an insured by the courts.

Property owners may not generally use deadly force when defending their property. Human life is highly valued by society, and physical bodies are valued much more than property. Due to this, the safety of any individual (invited or not) is of greater value than objects any individual is trying to steal. Reasonable force, preventing someone or something, used by an owner to protect the property from trespass or theft is allowable.

When reasonable use of self-help is used in defense of their property, owners may not be charged with battery, assault, or other wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental, that causes injury to another, as it will not be considered unlawful in these situations. This applies to REASONABLE force, not force calculated to severely injure, or be the cause or someone's death.

The one authorized limitation on the use of deadly force is when there is life threatening behavior. If an intruder is physically threatening life or, for example, raping a tenant or homeowner, it may be an appropriate use of deadly force. When there is no physical threat during a robbery, such as witnessing someone stealing from a backyard or garage, it is not justifiable to fire a weapon at the perpetrator, causing them physical harm.

Des Moines personal injury lawyer, attorney Ames, IA, elevator / swimming pool accident law firm - If you would like to schedule a initial consultation regarding your case, please contact the Luthens Law Offices at (800) 685-7948 or complete our inquiry form.