Paying rent is not the only responsibility that goes between a landlord and a tenant. The landlord also has the duty to keep common areas properly maintained. This duty stands to protect the tenants from unnecessary injury due to dangerous property conditions. A landlord who negligently fails to maintain the premises can be held liable for the injuries that result.
Several tenants from a San Francisco apartment said that the death of their 62-year-old neighbor was a direct result of the landlord's failure to fix a rotting staircase used by many of the tenants. The neighbors not only said that the rotted stairs were the cause of the fall but that the landlord knew that several staircases in the building were dangerous.
The complaints made by the residents were recorded on paper by the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection and went back as far as 1995. One resident remembered injuring herself when a step broke. She said she was lucky that she went through the stair to the floor and was not more seriously injured. "Had I known it was going to be these types of conditions I would have reconsidered moving in here," said another resident.
The resident who was killed was described as being "full of life" and a person who cared about everyone. The woman lived in the area for over two decades and worked as a local bartender for most of them. In the last moments of her life, the woman was forced to endure the pain of four fractured ribs, a lung that had been punctured, and lacerations to her kidney and liver, which caused internal bleeding that eventually led to her death.
Source: CBS San Francisco, "Neighbors Say Rotting Staircase Killed SF Woman," March 21, 2012