Thursday, July 21, 2016

Superior Court Finds Landlords May Be Liable For Failure to Install Smoke Detectors in Leased Premises

In the case of Echeverria v. Holley, 2016 Pa. Super. 119, No. 1342 WDA 2014 (Pa. Super. June 14, 2016 Olson, Gantman, Fitzgerald, J.J.) (Op. by Olson, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a landlord may be held liable for failing to install smoke detectors under the general rule that landlords owe a duty to protect tenants from injury or loss arising out of a negligent failure to maintain a rental property in a safe condition. 

The court noted that, since smoke detectors were required by law, failure to install them could be a negligent failure to maintain the property in a safe condition.  

The court also emphasized that claims of negligence and negligence per se are significantly different claims.   The court ruled that an amendment seeking to add a negligence per se claim to the Complaint after the expiration of the statute of limitation was barred as a matter of law where that particular claim did not relate back to another negligence claim pled.

The court also otherwise indicated that, to the extent that a claim for implied warranty of habitability was pled in a landlord-tenant personal injury context, only contract remedies would be available under that theory and not tort damages for personal injuries. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this case may click this LINK. 


I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith for bringing this case to my attention.

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