How Inspections Keep Residents Safe—and Lawsuits at Bay

How Inspections Keep Residents Safe—and Lawsuits at Bay Multi-Housing News (06/22/17) Lee, Jindou; Levy, Susan J.

A loose board on a stairway, an exposed wire or a leaky ceiling all have the potential to cause serious injury to an apartment resident or visitor to a multifamily housing property and even result in costly judgments against the property owner. In the context of apartment communities, a plaintiff who who slips on water accumulating under a dripping air conditioning unit need only prove that: one, the building's owners were aware of the leak and did not repair it; or, two, that inspections were so infrequent or otherwise lacking that the court will infer constructive knowledge of the hazard. The best way for apartment owners to stave off claims of liability is to perform regular and thorough inspections of their properties, leveraging cutting-edge technologies to ensure inspections are efficient and easy to reference.

In addition, they should take date and time-stamped photographs to demonstrate when management first became aware of a problem, what steps were taken to warn residents, and when and how fixes were made. When someone does get injured, property management must often sift through paper files or old Excel spreadsheets to produce evidence of due diligence. Of course, inspections should be about more than just finding and identifying problems. Apartment industry professionals say they should empower owners and operators to better care for their communities and demonstrate proof of their own sound management.

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