In a recent decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”), the Court ruled that certain landlords are strictly liable for any injury that results from the violation of the state building code. Strict liability is important to injury victims as the injury victim does not need to prove that his or her injuries were a result of the negligence of the landlord. The injury victim only needs to prove that his or her injuries resulted from the landlord’s violation of the building code. In interpreting Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 143, Section 51, the SJC found that the statute applied to all violations of the building code, and not just violations of the fire code.
While the SJC expanded the coverage of strict liability, it also found that the strict liability provisions only applied to places of public or commercial use, places of assembly and places of work. Specifically, the SJC found that strict liability does not apply against owners of single-family houses or the owner-occupied two-family home in which the owner rents one unit to a tenant. Under these circumstances, the injury victim must still prove negligence. However, the violation of the building code may be used by the injury victim to establish the landlord’s negligence.
If you have any questions regarding in injury you sustained as a result on the property of another, whether in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, please contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan.
Kevin P. Rauseo is a former director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. and has since been appointed as a Justice for the New Hampshire Circuit Court. Please feel free to contact another attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss your legal issues.