Landlords accused of renting dangerous home

Law of the Land

In the case Reyes v. Egner, the tenant (Reyes) renting a vacation home for a two-week holiday brought her elderly father along for the trip. He fell on a hidden step with no handrail, which should have had one under the building code, and severely injured himself.

When the tenant sued the beach house’s landlords (Harry and Holly Egner) and the real estate broker who rented it out, the landlords defended themselves and the broker from the suit on grounds that because the step defect was not obvious, they were not liable unless they had "fraudulently concealed" the defect. The trial court agreed, clarifying that either (a) the defect was obvious or (b) it was non-obvious but not concealed by the landlords, concluding that either way, the landlords could not be held liable, and dismissed the case.