Tenants can sue over ice and snow in common area of apartment house
Christopher Lemon was a student at MSU in 2005. He lived in a rental house near campus. He fell on ice and suffered injury on December 23, in an asphalt area between the house and the driveway. The area was used by all tenants to access city garbage receptacles and for recreational space. Lemon's attorneys claimed that the owner of the rental violated MCL 554.139, requiring him to keep the common areas "fit for the use intended." The insurer for the landlord argued that the area of the fall was not a "common area." It also argued that in this situation "fitness for the use intended" did not include removal of snow and ice.
The Court of Appeals noted the multiple uses of the area by all tenants of the home and returned the case to the trial court for a decision by the fact-finder. It held that "a genuine issue of material fact exists on whether an outdoor common area used for social gatherings and accessing the tenants' trashcans is fit for its intended uses when it is covered in ice and snow."