Your Stairs Could Be Legal Trouble
For many home owners or landlords, the idea of home repair runs the spectrum from an easy DIY fix, to something that can require a considerable investment. Fixing a dangling gutter on the roof, for example, might be as easy as grabbing a ladder and doing some minor readjustment by hand. On the other hand, a break in the sewage pipe carrying waste out of the home can be a very expensive problem that requires professionals in order to be done safely and to according to strict housing code standards.
These repairs, however, aren’t just important for maintaining the condition and value of your home. In some cases, a piece of your architecture can be important in maintaining your legal status as a responsible owner of a property, and if you neglect that aspect, you may leave yourself unknowingly vulnerable to legal action. The stairs of any home or business are one of these sensitive areas.
An Area Of Traffic
Unlike other parts of a home or business, the stairs have only one specific function, and that is to facilitate the safe, efficient movement from one level of a building to another. If you own a home, are a landlord with tenants, or manage a business in which you have customers, employees or both moving up and down stairs, it’s your legal responsibility to ensure that these stairs are clear, unobstructed and in good working order.
For landlords or businesses, it’s more obvious why this is necessary. A customer, employee, or even a tenant that falls down a poorly maintained flight of stairs through no fault of their own is likely to seek legal action. However, even if you own your own home, and have only yourself and your family to worry about in most circumstances, stairs in poor condition can still present a risk to visitors, and they will retain the legal privilege of going to court if they are injured.
In addition to just keeping a stairway clear and unobstructed, there can sometimes be problems with the structure of the stairs themselves. Older homes, for example, built before modern housing codes were implemented, may not always have stairs compliant with today’s stricter safety requirements. This can lead to stairs going to bedrooms or basements that are uneven, too steep, or even awkwardly built as the result of an amateur effort.
In some cases, stairs may be showing symptoms of a bigger problem with your foundation, as the stairs shift, or even break apart due to the stresses of your home moving in two different directions, pulling the house apart. Problems of this nature can be expensive to deal with, and the temptation for many people is to simply live with it, due to the expense. But that kind of thinking can leave a person open to a much more expensive lawsuit.
All it takes is one visitor, such as an elderly guest at a party, falling down the stairs due to the poor condition they were kept in, and the visiting family of the injured senior has every legal right to go to court for premises liability. On the other side of the coin, if you find yourself in a situation where your or someone close to you has been injured by an easily preventable problem with stairs, an experienced St. Pete lawyer can help.