Slips and trips have been a reality of property management since tenants were born. It is always a possibility that a tenant will fall doing significant injury. They will look for somebody to blame and pay the costs.

No one is liable if the tenant creates their injury. For example, if the tenant is on the terps and falls down the stairs, it isn’t the problem of anyone but the tenant.

Where there is a safety hazard, the landlord is prima facie responsible for the injury. Again, for example, if a person leans on a balcony and collapses, the landlord will be at fault.

This is why we advise all landlords to ensure they have public liability cover. General liability insurance is included in most landlord insurance policies and in building procedures. Therefore, if the landlord has been diligent, they will be covered.

Nonetheless, the agent can assume responsibility if they do not react to an advised hazard. In Than v Galletta & Ors [2019] NSWCD 9, the agent was held liable because they did not inform the landlord of the danger and ensure the hazard was remedied.

This case clarified that agents should advise their landlords of every problem and that the agent’s job was not completed until the trades-person suggested the job was done. In this case, the work order was sent, but the trades-person had not done the job before the fall. The agent was held liable due to the failure to follow up.

Agents can assume the responsibility from the landlord and the tenant if they are not eternally vigilant. Don’t ignore the whingers because there might be a real issue.