Can a tenant in Nevada sue the landlord or management company if he is injured in the unit?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Aug 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

In general, Nevada landlords and property management companies are not liable for injuries that occur inside a rental until unless their faulty workmanship or repairs caused the injury.

Landlord's duty to maintain habitable conditions

Nevada landlords have the duty to keep dwellings in a habitable condition. Just some of these habitability requirements include:

  • weather protection of the roofs and exterior walls
  • good repairs of the walls, floors, and ceilings
  • plumbing that is to code
  • a water supply that is to code

If a landlord fails to maintain habitable conditions, then tenants may be able to sue the landlord and/or management company for violating Nevada negligence laws if they get injured because of the lack of habitability:

Example: Henry owns a house that Josh is renting. An inspector informs Henry that the roof is faulty and needs to be repaired. Josh never complained, so Henry does nothing. Soon a piece of the roof falls and hits Josh, injuring him. Arguably, Henry would be liable for Josh's injuries because Henry had a duty to maintain a safe roof. It makes no difference that Josh never complained.

In the above example, Henry's negligence caused Josh's injury. But if Josh's injury stemmed from circumstances that the landlord was not responsible for, then the landlord should escape liability:

Example: Henry owns a house that Josh is renting. One night Josh climbs a stepladder (that Josh owns) to retrieve glassware from a cabinet. Josh trips on his sneakers and falls off the stepladder, injuring himself. In this situation, Henry was probably not liable for Josh's injury. Josh fell off a stepladder that he owned to retrieve his own glassware -- none of which has anything to do with Henry's responsibility as a landlord.

Note that lease agreements typically spell out in detail the respective responsibilities of the landlords and the tenants, and the procedures tenants must follow if they discover a defect in their unit.

Premises liability

Tenants who sustain injuries in their rental unit may be able to bring a negligence lawsuit against the landlord and/or property management company under the Nevada theory of premises liability. If the case goes to trial, the tenant ("plaintiff") would need to prove the following elements:

  1. The defendant is the owner of the premises or is in control of the premises where the accident took place;
  2. The plaintiff was on the premises at the defendant's consent;
  3. A dangerous condition exists on the premises;
  4. Defendant caused, knew of, or should have known of the alleged dangerous condition; and
  5. The dangerous condition caused the plaintiff to suffer injury and/or other damages.

Tenants who win premises liability lawsuits may be able to win compensatory damages to pay for all their:

  • medical bills,
  • lost wages,
  • loss of future earnings, and/or
  • pain and suffering

Note that plaintiffs bear the burden to prove negligence "by a preponderance of the evidence." This means that it is more likely than not that the landlord's breach of duty caused the tenant's injury.

Note that many landlords carry insurance to pay for tenant injuries caused by the landlords' negligence.

Legal References:

  1. Rolain v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42373 (2013); Hammerstein v. Jean Dev. West, 111 Nev. 1471, 907 P.2d 975 (1995).
  2. See, e.g., Deiss v. Southern Pac. Co., 53 P.2d 332, 56 Nev. 169 (1936).
  3. NRS 118A.220  Rental agreements: Prohibited provisions.

          1.  A rental agreement shall not provide that the tenant:

          (a) Agrees to waive or forego rights or remedies afforded by this chapter;

          (b) Authorizes any person to confess judgment on any claim arising out of the rental agreement;

          (c) Agrees to pay the landlord's attorney's fees, except that the agreement may provide that reasonable attorney's fees may be awarded to the prevailing party in the event of court action;

          (d) Agrees to the exculpation or limitation of any liability of the landlord arising under law or to indemnify the landlord for that liability or the costs connected therewith if the liability is based upon an act or omission of the landlord or any agent or employee of the landlord; or

          (e) Agrees to give the landlord a different notice of termination than that required to be given by the landlord to the tenant.

          2.  Any provision prohibited by subsection 1 is void as contrary to public policy and the tenant may recover any actual damages incurred through the inclusion of the prohibited provision.

  4. NRS 118A.230  Rental agreements: Unconscionability

    1.  If the court as a matter of law finds that a rental agreement or any of its provisions was unconscionable when made, the court may refuse to enforce the agreement, enforce the remainder of the agreement without the unconscionable provision or limit the application of any unconscionable provision to avoid an unconscionable result.

    2.  If unconscionability is put in issue by a party or by the court upon its own motion, the parties shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to present evidence as to the setting, purpose and effect of the rental agreement or settlement to aid the court in making its determination.

  5. NRS 118A.290  Habitability of dwelling unit.

      1.  The landlord shall at all times during the tenancy maintain the dwelling unit in a habitable condition. A dwelling unit is not habitable if it violates provisions of housing or health codes concerning the health, safety, sanitation or fitness for habitation of the dwelling unit or if it substantially lacks:

      (a) Effective waterproofing and weather protection of the roof and exterior walls, including windows and doors.

      (b) Plumbing facilities which conformed to applicable law when installed and which are maintained in good working order.

      (c) A water supply approved under applicable law, which is:

             (1) Under the control of the tenant or landlord and is capable of producing hot and cold running water;

             (2) Furnished to appropriate fixtures; and

             (3) Connected to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law and maintained in good working order to the extent that the system can be controlled by the landlord.

      (d) Adequate heating facilities which conformed to applicable law when installed and are maintained in good working order.

      (e) Electrical lighting, outlets, wiring and electrical equipment which conformed to applicable law when installed and are maintained in good working order.

      (f) An adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish in clean condition and good repair at the commencement of the tenancy. The landlord shall arrange for the removal of garbage and rubbish from the premises unless the parties by written agreement provide otherwise.

      (g) Building, grounds, appurtenances and all other areas under the landlord's control at the time of the commencement of the tenancy in every part clean, sanitary and reasonably free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, insects and vermin.

      (h) Floors, walls, ceilings, stairways and railings maintained in good repair.

      (i) Ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, maintained in good repair if supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord.

      2.  The landlord and tenant may agree that the tenant is to perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks and minor remodeling only if:

      (a) The agreement of the parties is entered into in good faith; and

      (b) The agreement does not diminish the obligations of the landlord to other tenants in the premises.

      3.  An agreement pursuant to subsection 2 is not entered into in good faith if the landlord has a duty under subsection 1 to perform the specified repairs, maintenance tasks or minor remodeling and the tenant enters into the agreement because the landlord or his or her agent has refused to perform them.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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