NJ Laws Directions to Ken Vercammen and Associates Ken Vercammens Resume Ken Vercammen articles

Kenneth Vercammen & Associates
A Law Office with Experienced Attorneys for Your New Jersey Legal Needs

2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison NJ 08817
732-572-0500
1-800-655-2977

Personal Injury and Criminal
on Weekends 732-261-4005

Princeton Area
68 South Main St.
Cranbury, NJ 08512
By Appointment Only
Toll Free 800-655-2977


Civil Model Jury Charge 5.20D DUTY OF OWNER OF MULTI-FAMILY HOUSE TO TENANTS AND OTHERS

5.20D DUTY OF OWNER OF MULTI-FAMILY HOUSE TO TENANTS AND OTHERS (Approved 5/97)

 

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/civil/civindx.html

NOTE TO JUDGE

There are a variety of legal theories for claiming negligence by the landlord to a tenant or his/her guests. The following charges address the most common theories in the case law and are not intended to be exhaustive.

 

A. Areas Over Which Landlord Retains Control (In or Out of Tenants Premises)

 

In this case, plaintiff [name] alleges that he/she was injured on property under the control of defendant [name], the landlord. The plaintiff [name] contends that the landlord was negligent by failing to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the property.[1] A landlord has a duty[2] to inspect/maintain/repair all parts of the property under the landlords control,[3] including the common areas and the premises within the tenants apartment. This duty requires the landlord to exercise reasonable care to guard against foreseeable dangers arising from the use of the property.[4]

However, a landlords duty to inspect/maintain/repair the property is not absolute. The landlord is not an insurer for the safety of his/her/its tenants. The duty to exercise reasonable care means that the landlord must maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition for the use and enjoyment of the tenants and their guests.[5]

Plaintiff alleges that the landlord was negligent because he/she/it failed to exercise reasonable care by [briefly state the nature of plaintiffs claim].[6]

1. Where Plaintiff Relies on Violation of Statute or Regulation (insert the following paragraph)

Plaintiff further claims that the landlord was negligent because defendant [name] violated a statute/regulation.[7] Plaintiff claims the landlord violated the following statutory/regulatory responsibilities to furnish habitable residential premises.

[Insert description of statute or regulation.]

Statutory and regulatory responsibilities establish a standard of conduct for landlords. If the defendant violated any statute/regulation, the violation may be considered by you as evidence of defendants negligence.[8] However, such violations are not conclusive on the issue of the defendants negligence, and you are to consider all the evidence and circumstances to reach your decision on whether the defendant was negligent in this case.

2. Use the following language when appropriate:

The landlords duty to exercise reasonable care cannot be delegated or transferred to others. The landlord may not relieve himself/herself/itself of that duty by hiring an employee/independent contractor to perform the maintenance or repairs. In other words, if an employee/independent contractor of the defendant [name] failed to exercise reasonable care in maintaining or repairing the property, the defendant [name] is still liable for any injuries to the tenant or his/her guests.[9]

3. Where There is a Factual Issue as to Landlords Actual or Constructive Notice of Defect[10]

Defendant [name] claims that he/she/it was not negligent in this case because he/she/it had no knowledge of the defect that caused plaintiffs injury.

The landlord is only liable for injuries to a tenant/guest by reason of defects of which the landlord knew or should have known before the accident. A landlord should have known of the defect, if the defect was discoverable by the landlord through a reasonable inspection of the premises.[11]

In other words, for defendant to be liable for plaintiffs injury, plaintiff must establish (1) that the property was in a defective condition; (2) that the existence of the defective condition was known or should have been known by the landlord before the plaintiffs injury; (3) that the landlord, after he/she/it knew or should have known of the defect, failed to act reasonably under the circumstances; and (4) that the landlords negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiffs injury.[12] On the other hand, if you find either that the defect was not known or reasonably discoverable by the defendant; that the landlord acted reasonably under the circumstances after he/she/it knew or should have known of the defect; or that the landlords conduct was not a proximate cause of the plaintiffs injury, then you should find for defendant [name].

If the landlord was negligent and such negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiffs injury, then the defendant [name] is liable for the injury. On the other hand, if the defendant [name] was not negligent or the defendants negligence was not a proximate cause of the plaintiffs injury, then the defendant is not liable.

B. Facilities or Equipment Provided by Landlord (In or Out of Tenants Premises)

 

In this case, plaintiff [name] alleges that the defendant [name] was negligent in maintaining (or repairing) equipment/systems/facilities provided by the landlord for the common use and benefit of all the tenants and that defendants negligence was a proximate cause of plaintiffs injury. A landlord has a duty to maintain (or repair) the equipment/systems/facilities in or out of a tenants apartment/premises[13] that are an integral part of equipment/ systems/facilities under the landlords control.[14] This duty requires the exercise of reasonable care to guard against dangers arising from the installation/ maintenance/operation of the equipment/system/facilities.

However, a landlords duty to maintain (or repair) the equipment/facilities/systems is not absolute. The landlord is not an insurer of the safety of his/her/its/ tenants. The duty to exercise reasonable care means that the landlord must maintain the equipment/systems/facilities in a reasonably safe condition for the use and enjoyment of the tenants and their guests.[15]

Plaintiff alleges that the landlord was negligent because he/she/it failed to exercise reasonable care by [briefly state nature of plaintiffs claim].[16]

If the landlord was negligent and such negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiffs injury, then the defendant [name] is liable for the injury. On the other hand, if the defendant [name] was not negligent or defendants negligence was not a proximate cause of the plaintiffs injury, then the defendant is not liable.

C. Landlords Duty Arising from Covenant to Repair[17]

In this case, plaintiff [name] alleges that defendant [name] was negligent in performing his/her/its contractual obligation to make repairs and that defendants negligence was the proximate cause of plaintiffs injury.[18] Where the lease (or other contractual obligation) requires the landlord to make repairs of the leased premises (or to keep the premises in repair), the landlord has a duty to exercise reasonable care in determining what repairs, if any, are necessary. He must make reasonable inspections of the premises to determine whether repairs are needed. He also has a duty to exercise reasonable care in making repairs (or having those repairs made).[19] The landlords duty to exercise reasonable care does not mean that he/she/it guarantees by such an agreement that the leased premises will never become in need of repairs.

Plaintiff alleges that the landlord was negligent because he/she/it failed to fulfill his/her/its agreement to repair by [briefly state nature of plaintiffs claim].

If the landlord was negligent in performing his/her/its obligations under the contractual agreement to make repairs and such negligence was a proximate cause of plaintiff [name] injury, then the defendant [name] is liable for the injury. On the other hand, if the defendant [name] was not negligent in performing his/her/its obligations under the contractual agreement to make repairs or the defendants negligence was not a proximate cause of the plaintiffs injury, then the defendant is not liable.

D. Landlords Duty Arising from Voluntary Repairs to Correct a Defective Condition

 

In this case, plaintiff [name] alleges that defendant [name] was negligent in making repairs he/she/it voluntarily undertook on the premises and that defendants negligence was a proximate cause of plaintiffs injury.

When a landlord voluntarily undertakes to repair defects on the leased premises, either for compensation or no compensation, the landlord has a duty to perform the work in a reasonably careful manner and the landlord is liable in damages if he/she/it is negligent in making such repairs.[20]

In determining whether the defendant was negligent in this case, you should consider whether the premises were made more dangerous by the repairs voluntarily made by the landlord and whether the tenant was misled into relying upon the sufficiency of the repairs to his/her detriment.[21]

If the landlord was negligent in making the voluntary repairs and such negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiff [name] injury, then the defendant [name] is liable for the injury. On the other hand, if the defendant [name] was not negligent in making the repairs or the defendants negligence was not a proximate cause of the plaintiffs injury, then the defendant is not li



[1] Construction of the lease to determine whether the landlord retained control of the portion of property where plaintiff was injured is ordinarily a matter for the court. Cf. Michaels v. Brookchester, Inc., 26 N.J. 379, 384-85 (1958). However, where the meaning of the lease is uncertain or ambiguous and depends on other evidence in aid of interpretation, the meaning of doubtful provisions should be left to the jury. 26 N.J. at 387-88. See also, Monohan v. Baime, 125 N.J.L. 280 (E&A 1940).

[2] The existence of a landlords duty in the particular circumstances is a question of law to be decided by the judge. Anderson v. Sammy Redd & Assoc., 278 N.J. Super. 50, 56 (App. Div. 1994), certif. denied, 139 N.J. 441 (1995).

[3] In appropriate circumstances, the landlords duty may encompass the proper installation and maintenance installation and maintenance of all equipment on the property, including equipment within the tenants premises. Anderson v. Sammy Redd & Assoc., 278 N.J. Super. at 55.

[4] See e.g., Anderson, 278 N.J. at 54 (negligent installation and maintenance of window screen in tenants apartment); Terrey v. Sheridan Gardens, Inc., 163 N.J. Super. 404 (App. Div. 1978) (exterior steps and handrail from apartment to street). In Anderson, the Appellate Division provides several other examples of the landlords duties to tenants and the public. Id. at 55.

[5] Anderson v. Sammy Redd & Assoc., 278 N.J. Super. at 54.

[6] See No. 1, below, where plaintiff relies on the violation of a statute or regulation.

[7] Under the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Act, N.J.S.A. 55:13A-1 et seq., the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs is required to issue regulations to ensure that any hotel or motel dwelling, as defined in N.J.S.A. 55:13A-3 of the Act, will be constructed and maintained in a manner that protects the health, safety and welfare of the occupants and the public. N.J.S.A. 55:13A-7. These regulatory duties have been promulgated in N.J.A.C. 5:10-6 to 27. In addition, the Legislature has codified certain specific duties of landlords/owners in statutes. See e.g., N.J.S.A. 55:13A-7.1 (Duty to provide smoke detectors or smoke alarms in conformance with regulations of the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs); N.J.S.A. 55:13-7.13 (Duty to provide child protection window guards upon written request of tenant).

In an action to establish civil liability against a landlord, it is appropriate to consider the landlords statutory and administrative responsibilities to establish a standard of conduct for landlords. However, while such violations may be considered as evidence of negligence, they are not conclusive on the issue of negligence. Trentacost v. Brussel, 82 N.J. 214, 231 (1980); Anderson v. Sammy Redd & Assoc., 278 N.J. Super. at 56; Ellis v. Caprice, 96 N.J. Super. 539, 553 (App. Div. 1967).

[8] The preceding two sentences should be omitted when the judge determines, as a matter of law, that the landlord violated any statute or regulation. In those circumstances, the jury should be instructed as follows:

In this case, the defendant violated [insert description of statute or regulation landlord violated]. In considering the defendants liability for the plaintiffs injury, you may consider the landlords violation of such a statute/regulation as evidence of defendants negligence.

The instruction should be appropriately modified in those circumstances where one or more violations have been established as a matter of law, but there is a factual issue as to other violations.

[9] De Los Santos v. Saddlehill, Inc., 211 N.J. Super. 253, 261-63 (App. Div. 1986), certif. denied, 107 N.J. 101 (1987). See also Port Auth. v. Honeywell Prot. Serv., 222 N.J. Super. 11, 21 (App. Div. 1987); Gill v. Krassner, 11 N.J. Super. 10 (App. Div. 1950).

[10] Since the landlords duty is not to insure the safety of the tenants, but only to exercise reasonable care, a landlord is liable only for injuries caused by defects of which the landlord had actual or constructive knowledge. Dwyer v. Skyline Apartments, Inc., 123 N.J. Super. 48, 52-3 (App. Div. 1973), affd o.b., 63 N.J. 577 (1973). This instruction should not be given when there is no factual dispute as to the landlords notice or when the judge determines, as a matter of law, that the landlord had actual or constructive knowledge of the defect. For example, there is an exception to the requirement of actual or constructive notice of latent defects when the landlord created the defective condition. Id. at 53. See also, Mikrut v. Pellow, 65 N.J. Super. 14, 17 (App. Div. 1961).

[11] Dwyer v. Skyline Apartments, Inc., 123 N.J. Super. at 51; Terrey v. Sheridan Gardens, Inc., 163 N.J. Super. at 410.

[12]Dwyer v. Skyline Apartments, Inc., 123 N.J. Super. at 52.

[13]The landlords responsibility over portions of the tenants apartment or dwelling often arises when there are systems or facilities inside and outside of the apartment or dwelling over which the landlord retained control (e.g., water pipes, heating pipes, plumbing fixtures, electrical equipment or other similar equipment or facilities). Coleman v. Steinberg, 54 N.J. 58, 63 (1969); Michaels v. Brookchester, Inc., 26 N.J. at 385.

[14]The existence of a landlords duty is a question of law to be decided by the judge. Anderson v. Sammy Redd & Assoc., 278 N.J. Super. at 56.

[15] See subsection A footnote 2, where an independent contractor or employee of the landlord is claimed to have been negligent.

[16] See subsection A footnote 1, where there is a claim of violation of a statute or regulation and subsection A footnote 3, where notice is an issue.

[17] The liability arising from the negligent breach of a covenant to repair is distinct from the liability arising from a breach of the duty relating to the landlords retained control over leased property. Michaels v. Brookchester, Inc., 26 N.J. at 384.

[18] The construction of the lease to determine whether the landlord entered into a covenant to repair is ordinarily a matter for the court unless the lease provisions are uncertain or ambiguous. See note 1, supra.

[19]See subsection A footnote 2, when an independent contractor or employee of the landlord is claimed to have been negligent, subsection A footnote 1, when violation of a statute or regulation is alleged and subsection A footnote 3, when notice is an issue.

[20] Bauer v. 141-149 Cedar Lane Holding Co., 24 N.J. 139, 145 (1957).

[21] Bauer, 24 N.J. at 149. Add subsection A footnote 1, 2 and 3 as appropriate.

kenv
Kenneth Vercammen was the Middlesex County Bar Municipal Court Attorney of the Year
Receive free NJ Laws Email newsletter with current laws and cases

New Article of the Week

Meet with an experienced Attorney to handle your important legal needs.
Please call the office to schedule a confidential "in Office" consultation.
Attorneys are not permitted to provide legal advice by email.

Since 1985, KENNETH VERCAMMEN has worked as a personal injury attorney, working for injury victims and their families. By taking a hard-hitting, aggressive approach toward the insurance companies, KENNETH VERCAMMEN and our co-counsel have consistently obtained outstanding results for many injured clients over the years I am proud to have worked on cases in various capacities, small and large. While obviously prior results cannot guarantee the outcome of future cases, I can guarantee that you case will receive the same degree of dedication and hard work that went into each of these prior cases.

In direct contrast to the hard-hitting approach we take toward the insurance companies is the soft approach we take toward our clients. I am proud of my compassionate staff as I am of the outstanding financial results they have achieved. For many years, I have watched them treat our clients with patience, dignity and respect. I would have it no other way.

Many years ago, I attended a seminar sponsored by the American Bar Association on Law Practice Management. This was to help insure that each of our clients is always treated like a person -- not a file! We recognize that you are innocent victims and that you have placed your trust in us. Please understand that we understand what you are going through. Feel comforted that we are here to help you.

If you retain KENNETH VERCAMMEN to represent you, we will give you the same advice we give each of our clients -- concentrate on your life, you family and your health. We will take care of everything else. Leave all of the work and worry about your legal rights to us. Trust us. Believe in us. Have faith in us as your attorneys. Understand that we will always to do what we believe is best for you and your case. Helping you is our job. In fact, it is our only job -- guiding injury victims like you through one of the most difficult times of your lives, with care and concern -- while fighting aggressively to the limits of the law to obtain compensation and justice for each of you!

Print our Personal Injury Questionnaire on our Website, Fill it out and Fax back, so we can determine if we can help you obtain an injury settlement. We would welcome an opportunity to prove to you what we have proven to thousands of injured clients -- that you can feel comfortable and secure in the fact that KENNETH VERCAMMEN - Trial Attorney We Fight To Win.

When you have been injured in an accident or collision, you are worried about who is going to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. The last thing you want is to be taken advantage of by an insurance company. If you dont protect your rights, you may not be able to make a claim.

Insurance companies have attorneys and adjusters whose goal is to pay you as little as they can. You need a New Jersey personal injury lawyer to fight for you. I am dedicated to helping your recover as much money as possible under the law.

You need an attorney who will work hard to protect your rights, maximize your insurance settlement and minimize the hassles of dealing with the insurance companies. You need an experienced and aggressive New Jersey trial lawyer with PROVEN RESULTS who will fight for you. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer can make the difference between getting what you deserve and getting nothing.

Without the threat of a lawyer who is willing to go to trial and seek a big jury verdict, why would an insurance company pay you what your claim is really worth? Lawsuits can be expensive, and many people do not have the money to pursue their claim. In every case, I advance all costs associated with pursuing your case and I do not ask you for a penny until we recover from the other side.

I am an experienced aggressive trial lawyer and a 3rd degree Black Belt. I am not afraid to take your case to trial if that is what it takes to maximize the amount of money your recover for your personal injury. I offer one-on-one service, and I will not hand your case off to an inexperienced lawyer or a paralegal.

Reduce the stress of making a claim.

Personal injury accidents can turn your life upside down. Making a personal injury claim can be difficult and time consuming. Once I take your case, you can stop worrying about dealing with the insurance companies and focus on recovering from your injuries. I take care of all of the paperwork, phone calls, and negotiations, so you can get on with your life.

p.s. For those clients who are afraid or reluctant to go to Court, KENNETH VERCAMMEN also offers a special -- For Settlement Only -- program. This means that if we are unable to settle with the insurance company, we will not go any further -- unless you want us to. You have my personal assurance that there will be absolutely no pressure and no obligation.

We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.

This means:
YOU DONT OWE ME A LEGAL FEE UNLESS I RECOVER MONEY FOR YOU.

Call our office to schedule a "confidential" appointment 732-572-0500

Kenneth A. Vercammen is the Managing Attorney at Kenneth Vercammen & Associates in Edison, NJ. He is a New Jersey trial attorney has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He has appeared in Courts throughout New Jersey each week on personal injury matters, Criminal /Municipal Court trials, and contested Probate hearings.

Mr. Vercammen has published over 125 legal articles in national and New Jersey publications on criminal, elder law, probate and litigation topics. He is a highly regarded lecturer on litigation issues for the American Bar Association, NJ ICLE, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. His articles have been published in noted publications included New Jersey Law Journal, ABA Law Practice Management Magazine, and New Jersey Lawyer. He is the Editor in Chief of the American Bar Association Tort and Insurance Committee Newsletter.

Admitted In NJ, US Supreme Court and Federal District Court.

Contact the Law Office of
Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C.
at 732-572-0500
for an appointment.

The Law Office cannot provide legal advice or answer legal questions over the phone or by email. Please call the Law office and schedule a confidential "in office" consultation.

Ken Vercammen articles.

Ken Vercammens Resume
Directions to Ken Vercammen and Associates




Disclaimer This web site is purely a public resource of general New Jersey information (intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date). It is not intended be a source of legal advice, do not rely on information at this site or others in place of the advice of competent counsel. The Law Office of Kenneth Vercammen complies with the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct. This web site is not sponsored or associated with any particular linked entity unless specifically stated. The existence of any particular link is simply intended to imply potential interest to the reader, inclusion of a link should not be construed as an endorsement.

Copyright 2017. Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C.