Charleston Apartment Building Injury Lawyers

Charleston Apartment Building Injury Lawyers

What Are the Responsibilities of Apartment Building Owners and Management Companies to Keep the Complex Safe?

Most people will live in an apartment building at some point in their lives. According to a recent study, one in eight Americans currently resides in an apartment. While apartments are an affordable housing option with several other benefits, residents place significant trust in apartment building owners and management companies to ensure that their apartments and the complex are safe.

Residents who are injured while living in an apartment complex may be able to bring a premises liability lawsuit against the owner of the complex, the management company, or both. At the Steinberg Law Firm, our premises liability attorneys have 95 years of experience advocating on behalf of accident victims and their families, helping them obtain fair compensation for what they have been through.

South Carolina Apartment Statistics

Apartment living is common in South Carolina. In fact, South Carolina has 760 buildings listed as “apartment complexes,” and 7.5 percent of South Carolinians live in apartment complexes containing five or more units.

In early 2022, the average rent for an apartment increased by 12 percent for new residents and 3.5 percent for existing residents. Currently, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in South Carolina is roughly $657 per month, with a four-bedroom apartment demanding an average rent of $1,231.

Of course, renters also have other expenses. For example, one study revealed that more than 10 percent of people living in apartments across the US indicated that they are responsible for all repairs within the apartment. Also, only 37 percent of US apartment dwellers have renters’ insurance, which is intended to cover the cost of property damage and personal injuries to visitors.

Common Causes of Apartment Injuries

A variety of potential hazards can be found in apartment buildings and complexes. For example, below is a list of apartment injuries that we have seen in recent years:

  • Falls related to poorly maintained or missing handrails.
  • Dog bites due to residents having dogs and breeds known to be dangerous and prohibited in the lease.
  • Assaults stemming from a lack of security.
  • Slip and falls due to uneven surfaces, lack of maintenance, and unlit areas.
  • Faulty appliances.
  • Drowning injuries and deaths in apartment swimming pools.
  • Motor vehicle accidents in apartment complex parking lots.
  • Smoke inhalation and burn injuries resulting from smoke detectors that are missing, defective, or have not had their batteries replaced; and
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning.

The owner of an apartment complex or the maintenance company hired by the owner is typically responsible for maintaining both individual apartments and all common areas. However, for various reasons, owners and maintenance companies may overlook even the most common-sense maintenance issues, which can put residents at serious risk of injury.

Responsibilities of Apartment Building Owners and Management Companies

Most apartments in South Carolina are owned by individuals or small companies. Although apartment owners can purchase a complex to generate passive income, they may not have the knowledge, interest or time to collect rent, conduct repairs, and ensure all necessary maintenance is taken care of. Thus, many apartment owners hire management companies to handle the everyday operations of the building or complex. When an apartment complex owner hires a management company, it can lead to confusion regarding each party’s responsibility. In turn, this can make it difficult to determine liability after an apartment injury.

Typically, apartment injury cases fall under the theory of premises liability. A premises liability lawsuit is a type of personal injury claim brought by an injured person against the owner or occupier of the property where their injury occurred. Premises liability law states that owners or occupiers of a property must make reasonable efforts to make it safe for those who are either expressly or impliedly invited to enter. In the context of apartment injuries, there is no question that owners and maintenance companies owe renters and their children a legal duty to keep the property safe. This includes the duty to fix known hazards as well as to make reasonable efforts to identify latent dangers, which are those that renters may not recognize. However, South Carolina courts have made it clear that property owners do not need to guarantee the safety of those who enter their property. For example, apartment owners or maintenance companies may not be liable for injuries stemming from hazards that could not be discovered despite their diligence.

Examples of When an Apartment Owner May Be Liable for a Renter’s Injuries

One example of when an apartment owner is liable for a tenant’s injuries is when the owner handles all maintenance and repairs themselves. Even if an owner relies on a maintenance company, the owner could still be liable. For example, an apartment owner might be liable for a renter’s injuries in any of the following situations:

  • Injuries related to the design of the building, stairs, landscaping, or parking lot.
  • Drowning injuries and deaths related to a lack of supervision or signage to indicate no lifeguard is on duty.
  • Injuries caused by an owner’s refusal to replace appliances they know to be defective.

Examples of When an Apartment Maintenance Company May Be Liable for a Tenant’s Injuries

A contract with the apartment complex typically outlines an apartment management company’s obligation. To a large degree, a management company’s liability will depend on what duties the complex’s owner delegated to the management company. As a general rule, the following are usually the responsibility of a management company:

  • Conducting regular repairs of handrails, worn carpeting, and burnt-out lights.
  • Notifying an apartment owner about major repairs that may need to be done, such as broken pavement or cracked sidewalks throughout the complex.
  • Failure to replace broken windows or doors of individual apartment units.
  • Neglecting to change door locks after a tenant moves out.

Many accidents are solely the fault of either an apartment complex owner or a management company; however, all parties may be named in order to avoid finger pointing or blame shifting.

Speak with an Experienced Apartment Injury Lawyer to Learn More About Your Rights

If you or a loved one was recently hurt in any type of accident at your apartment complex, you might be entitled to financial compensation from the owner of the complex or the property management company. At the Steinberg Law Firm, we have more than 95 years of hands-on experience aggressively pursuing fair compensation on behalf of accident victims and their families. We understand the challenges you face after suffering serious injuries and strive to make the recovery process as easy on you as possible while maximizing the compensation you receive. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an experienced South Carolina premises liability attorney, call the Steinberg Law Firm today at 843-720-2800. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.

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