Living in a rental property often means having less control over your environment than if you owned a home. You may be able to live without the option to change the color of your living room in exchange for the convenience and affordability of renting a house or apartment. However, you also lack the control over making important safety decisions that may affect your children.
Your landlord is responsible for keeping the property as safe as reasonably possible. If your building has smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and flood lights, your landlord may feel he or she is doing enough to protect you and your family. What your landlord may not see are the attractive nuisances on the property.
What is an attractive nuisance?
An attractive nuisance is anything that may lure your child into a dangerous situation. Perhaps the most common example of this is a swimming pool. Your child may see an unattended swimming pool as delightfully enticing. Without adequate fencing and locks that meet the codes of Mississippi, many pools have lured children to a tragic end. However, even if there is no pool on your landlord’s property, other circumstances may create an attractive nuisance that could place your child in danger, for example:
- A fountain, hot tub or well
- Machinery such as riding mowers, ATVs, golf carts or tractors
- Piles of debris such as materials your landlord is using for construction or renovations
- Old appliances like freezers or refrigerators with the doors still attached and unchained
- Unattended play equipment such as trampolines
- Abandoned or dilapidated sheds or outbuildings
- Dogs or other animals
It is not enough for the landlord to post a sign warning of the danger. Your child may not yet be able to read, and the enticement of the object may be enough that even a reading child misses the sign.
Dealing with the problem
The law may not consider natural features such as trees or ponds to be attractive nuisances, and your landlord may escape liability if the cost of removing or remedying the situation is prohibitive. However, if you landlord can reasonably conceive that a situation or object on the property could cause harm to a child, he or she may have an obligation to remove or secure it. Each case is unique, and the court takes many factors into consideration.
If your child suffers injury because of an attractive nuisance on your landlord’s property, you may wish to seek the counsel of an attorney who will review the details of the case and advise you on the best course of action for your situation.