Torts II, Pages 528–531

Borders v. Roseberry

Supreme Court of Kansas, 1975

Facts:

LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 486–487 (not in casebook)Plaintiff was visiting defendant's tenant when he slipped and fell on the ice on the residence's steps. The roof line caused water to drip onto the steps as defendant had not reinstalled a gutter. This water then froze. The tenant had complained to defendant about the lack of a gutter and resulting ice before this incident.

Procedural History:

Trial court entered judgment for defendant upon a conclusion of law.

Issue:

Does a landlord have a duty to a tenant's social guest to remedy a known icy condition?

Plaintiff's Argument:

LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 528, Beginning

The sole point raised on this appeal by the plaintiff, Gary D. Borders, is that the trial court committed reversible error in concluding as a matter of law that a landlord of a single-family house is under no obligation or duty to a social guest of his tenant to repair or remedy a known condition whereby water dripped from the roof onto the front steps of a house fronting north, froze and caused the social guest to slip and fall.

Rule:

In general, there is no liability upon the landlord for defective conditions existing at the time of the lease.

Exceptions:

  • Undisclosed dangerous conditions known to lessor and unknown to the lessee

  • Conditions dangerous to persons outside of the premises

  • Premises leased for admission of the public

  • Parts of land retained in lessor's control which lessee is entitled to use

  • Where lessor contracts to repair

  • Negligence by lessor in making repairs

    Notes:

    • This last exception only applies when the lessor attempts to make repairs and fails to exercise reasonable care without the tenant knowing that repairs have been sufficiently made.

    • Bell doesn't make me know these.

Note:

The landlord must disclose all known concealed dangerous conditions to the tenant at the time of the lease, however.

Reasoning:

  • Traditionally, the burden of maintaining the premises in a reasonably safe condition has been placed on the lessee. The relationship of landlord and tenant is not in itself sufficient to make the landlord liable for the tortious acts of the tenant.

  • None of the exceptions apply in this case. While plaintiff says a new exception should be created for him, he has not cited authority supporting this action nor stated with particularity how this law should be modified.

Holding:

No, a tenant has no duty to remedy an defective condition on the leased premises where the landlord has knowledge of that condition. Affirmed.

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