Being a military spouse, I’ve lived in a lot of rentals over the years. Moving is never easy and you never know what you’re getting into until you actually see a property in person. I’m so happy when a new home is everything I wanted it to be, but have also had the horror of walking into a new home that looks like it may have previously been the setting of a Hoarders episode—there are just some stains and smells that I can only imagine came from filming The Exorcist. Through all my years of searching for that perfect home to make mine, for as long as the military says I can stay, you would think that I would know to never sign a lease sight unseen. Unfortunately, that was not the case recently and I found myself the proud lessor of a property that screamed condemnation.
Okay, so maybe I’m slightly exaggerating. My biggest concern with the apartment, however, wasn’t its appearance, but the fact that I didn’t feel safe there: the “gated community” didn’t actually have gates that worked; the minimal lighting from my parking spot to my apartment door was covered by overgrown trees; and, what finally put me over the edge, as I was getting ready to leave one night I was unable to lock my door. Long story short, I got out of my lease as quickly as possible.
In Colorado, there is a requirement that rentals be fit for people to live in. The property must be kept in a manner that is safe to the tenant’s life, health and safety. This includes making sure that the property has working locks and any common areas, such as parking lots, have adequate lighting. It is also the landlord’s responsibility to adequately maintain the property and make repairs as needed.
If a landlord does not live up to this requirement, they put their tenant in harm’s way. Without adequate lighting in common areas, a landlord risks having a tenant trip and fall, and makes criminal activity more likely. If a stairway has a defective handrail that isn’t repaired, a tenant could lose their gripping and crash down the stairs. If a landlord does not make sure that all units have adequate locks on their doors and windows, a criminal could easily gain access to the unit and potentially cause harm to the tenant.
Just as with a medical or legal professionals, landlords owe their tenants a duty of care. Luckily in my case, I got out before anything bad could happen. But, if you end up injured because your home wasn’t properly maintained by your landlord, contact an attorney who you can trust to help you determine if your landlord can be held liable.
By: Tatum Tipton