Stairs are a critical part of the infrastructure in any multi-story building. Unfortunately, they are also a major source of risk for residents, tenants and visitors to a property.
People can accidentally fall down stairs even in ideal circumstances. When a landlord or property owner fails to properly maintain a stairway, the risk to visitors related to going up or down those stairs drastically increases.
Falling down stairs can result in severe injuries, ranging from broken bones and severe contusions to traumatic brain injuries. Property owners with multi-story buildings must engage in adequate stairway maintenance or run the risk of financial liability if someone gets hurt.
What should owners do to properly maintain a stairwell?
There are certain things about stairs that landlords and property owners can’t change without making drastic redesigns to the property. For example, older buildings may have a steeper angle to their stairway, which may mean that the individual steps are taller. Correcting that angle may not be possible without retrofitting a significant portion of the building.
However, there are many aspects of stairwell maintenance that landlords can and should regularly attend to. Making sure that flooring is safely in place and kept properly dry is important. Tears in carpet or peeling linoleum could trip someone and lead to a serious fall.
Treads on the edge of individual stairs are also important for helping people avoid slips. Properties should also have securely mounted handrails to help people maintain their balance. There should also be adequate lighting that is either constantly on or that activates via a motion detector when someone enters the stairway.
Poorly maintained stairs create premises liability
When a property owner neglects their stairway, either by failing to notice wear and damage that makes the stairs less safe or by ignoring reports from tenants about malfunctioning lights or loose handrails, they may wind up with premises liability if someone does fall.
Premises liability is the legal responsibility that stems from someone getting injured due to inadequate maintenance or neglect on the part of a property owner. Those hurt in dangerous stairwells have rights, including the right to ask for compensation for injuries or property damage that results from a fall.