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Would-Be Massachusetts Tenant Can’t Sue Landlord For Fall Down Stairs

A Massachusetts woman interested in renting an apartment near Boston, scheduled an appointment to visit the building. When she arrived, she walked to the back of the building to find the defendant and the unit she was interested in renting. She then fell down an unguarded stairway and was injured, suffering personal injuries. The women sued the building owner, and according to the lawsuit, she claimed the stairway violated Massachusetts state building code. “It is important to note,” says Boston personal injury attorney Thiadora Pina, “that the woman can still sue the landlord for her fall down the stairs and subsequent injuries. According to this decision, however, her cause of action, or what she can sue under, is now limitied.”


By way of example, in this case, the woman sued the defendant and his wife, who co-owned the building, in Norfolk County Superior Court for negligence stemming from their alleged failure to reasonably keep and maintain the premises, or the stairs. Sometime after filing suit, the plaintiff filed a motion seeking to amend her complaint in order to add a count for breach of the warranty of habitability. But the Court would not allow the woman to amend her complaint. The Court said that only tenants, guests of tenants, and subtenants can sue under a breach of the warranty of habitability theory. In this case, the woman could still sue the building owner, but only under a general negligence theory. If you are injured in an apartment building or house, while visting someone, after having been invited by that person, call the Law Office of Neil Burns so that we may evaluate your claim consistent with the law as it stands in Massachusetts.