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Statutory duty of landlords does not extend to tenants' social guests?

In Russell v. Northfield Pines Apartments, the Court of Appeals followed the lead of the activist Supreme Court majority in taking "reasonableness" decisions from the hands of the jury.

    Normally in a negligence case, the jury must decide whether the Defendant's behavior was "reasonable".  The activist Engler majority of the Supreme Court  has been doing everything it can to take away the jury's right to make these decisions.  For example, property owners have never been obligated to warn of a danger that was "open and obvious":  after all, the danger constituted an obvious warning on its own and a warning would be superfluous at best.  Several years ago, the Supreme Court expanded this exception from reasonable care to eliminate a property owner's duty to take any action with regard to "open and obvious" dangers.

   Because there is a statutory duty (MCL 554. 139(1)) requiring landlords to maintain residential premises in a safe condition, the Supreme Court's decision did not apply to them.  Then the Supreme Court majority held in a later case that this statutory duty was owed only to the tenant and not to his or her social guests.  The Russell case followed this rule and held that the landlord owed no duty to a premises visitor to eliminate a hazardous condition--even if the landlord's behavior was unreasonable.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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