Can Landlords Risk Resident Safety By Ignoring Broken Elevators?

For the last three weeks, residents of a Miami-area apartment building have been trying to draw attention to a potentially serious problem with their residence. The building’s only elevator has apparently been malfunctioning for weeks – leaving the residents with stairways as the only way of getting in and out of their apartments.

Most residents can handle this hassle without serious problems. For others, like two wheelchair-bound occupants, the outage represents a significant risk.

Landlords and other property owners have certain obligations to the people who live in and use their facilities. In many cases, maintaining common areas in a reasonably safe condition is one of those duties. While the elevator outage is not the most obvious safety risk, it could result in slip-and-fall accidents. For example, even for residents without mobility impairments, carrying groceries or laundry up and down a flight of stairs can be a dangerous fall opportunity.

Wheelchair-bound residents face even bigger risks in situations like this. These residents have to remain trapped in their apartments until the elevator is fixed – or risk navigating the stairs.

Landlords who ignore maintenance requirements and obligations may be liable based on premises liability theories. An experienced personal injury law firm can help victims determine whether a claim exists.

Source: Miami CBS 4, “Broken Elevator Leaves Two Wheelchair Bound Men Stuck In Their Homes,” Leo Allen, May 23, 2013