Legally Speaking® Landlord's Legal Duty

The legal duty a landlord owes to persons on the landlord’s property depends upon whether that person’s status is that of a guest, invitee, licensee, or merely a trespasser.

Guests are persons invited by the owner.  Invitees are those who rightfully enter upon the property by invitation, for some purpose which is of benefit to the owner, such as a repair person, or meter reader.  Licensees include those persons who enter the premises with the owner’s permission for purposes beneficial to the licensee, and not the owner.  A door-to-door salesperson may be a licensee.

By contrast to all others, a trespasser is one who enters onto or into property without invitation consent, or permission, purely for his or her own purposes, benefit, or convenience.  For example – a thief!

While landlords owe no duty to guests, invitees, licensees, or even to trespassers, except to avoid willful and wanton conduct that is likely to injure them, all classes of visitors to property  are owed the exercise of ordinary care to protect them by maintaining the premises in a clean and safe condition.  Municipal Building and Housing codes are used to enforce such duties by owners, as well as by tenants.

The basic laws of premises liability, recently stated  by the Ohio Supreme Court, held: “...[a] landlord owes the same duties to persons lawfully on the leased premises as the landlord owes to the tenant.”  This is a good rule to remember, and to observe, in order to minimize risk and liability.

Consult experienced legal Counsel for advice regarding the laws of premises liability.




1109 Carnegie Avenue (2nd Flr.)  Cleveland, Ohio 44115

(216) 531-5310 Ext.7100


J. Norman Stark


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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 2:10 PM, 07.17.2014