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Landlord Not Liable to Tenant for Defect in Premises That Arose During Tenancy
Description Tenant was injured when he fell due to a loose brick on a step. Since tenant had been in the house for three years, the condition arose during that time, and the landlord was not notified of the problem, the New Jersey appeals court held that there was no liability.
Topic Real Property
Key Words Warranty of Habitability; Landlord and Tenant
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Szeles had an oral month-by-month lease with Vena to rent a single-family house, which Szeles and his brother lived in for three years. Szeles fell because a brick in an outside staircase became loose, causing him to trip. He sued Vena for breach of warranty of habitability and negligence. Szeles knew that the brick had been loose for some time before the accident and that he had never told Vena of the problem. The trial court granted summary judgment to Vena. Szeles appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The general rule is that a landlord may be liable for injuries resulting from dangerous conditions on leased premises. Szeles asserts that constructive notice should apply because of a continuing duty by a landlord to inspect the premises. This was not a concealed problem; it is a problem that arose during the tenancy, when the house was under the control of Szeles. Vena was not notified of the problem, and so had no notice of it.
Citation Szeles v. Vena, 729 A.2d 1064 (Super. Ct., App. Div., N.J., 1999)

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