Landlord’s Law – A Closer Look
The law is a law designed and enforced by government or private institutions to govern behavior, with the precise definition also a subject of longstanding debate. It is commonly defined as the discipline of civil law and a science of criminal justice. In laymen’s terms, the law is considered to be a body of knowledge on which individuals and institutions act in accordance with to ensure that they are law abiding citizens.
Although the field of public law encompasses wide-ranging and diverse areas such as labor laws, corporate laws, property laws, divorce laws, family laws, immigration laws, tax laws, etc., criminal law specifically deals with criminal acts and proceedings and is thus quite different from other types of laws. Criminal law involves government action against individuals or organizations for criminal acts. It is beyond the jurisdiction of any other category of laws to interfere or decide about an individual’s private and personal actions. The concept of right of privacy is quite strong in the US as it guarantees the right of an individual to be selective about the information he/she reveals to the public or to others. Therefore, it is important that the criminal law is well understood by everyone so that they know their rights and about how to go about with them when circumstances arise that warrants it.
Criminal law, therefore, is not something that pertains only to government agencies or branches of the state involved. The term covers private individuals, corporations, and associations as well. Generally speaking, the states that do not have common law courts operate independent common law courts. Criminal laws are categorized according to the degree of intrusion into the individual’s liberty, i.e. freedom of speech, freedom of contract, etc.
Private criminal law is subdivided into civil law, criminal law, probate law, property law, and corporate law. Civil law includes the area of the law of domestic disputes such as disagreements over the meaning of contracts, property ownership, child custody, and damages for personal and property damages. These disagreements often lead to litigation between opposing parties and eventually to judgments. There are civil cases that involve both civil and criminal law as separate issues.
Civil laws are organized in distinct forms that are similar to other laws. However, civil law differs from other common law jurisdictions in that it neither recognizes nor provides protection against substantive offenses (e.g., murder) nor specific offenses (e.g., torts). Unlike criminal law, civil law does not require a jury trial or the involvement of a judge or jury. It is governed by a system of laws known as “natural justice” which is not based on the majority rule, and unlike the criminal justice system which is primarily established through statutes and jury trial, civil law relies on the acknowledgment that each person is entitled to his or her rights by virtue of being a human being. In addition, this law differs from common law in that it does not recognize one person’s responsibility for another’s conduct under circumstances justifying reasonable negligence or objective reasons.
Property law, also referred to as landlord’s law, is the body of law governing the relationships between persons and organizations that occupy land. This law recognizes that the landlord has the responsibility to maintain the property in a habitable and safe condition and that he/she can be held responsible for injuries to tenants resulting from the landlord’s failure to fulfill that responsibility. The most common law areas governing landlord’s responsibilities are negligence, breach of contract, property damage, and eviction. A number of statutes provide for tenant protection, including the McDonald Law and the Pierson Law.
The Pierson Law recognizes that landlords have the duty to protect their tenants from acts of violence and other bad conduct by others who are engaged in the business of renting buildings and other commercial real estate. Violation of the law can result in significant monetary penalties. For example, if a landlord fails to make repairs that cause tenants to suffer injury, the landlord may be held liable for the cost of medical treatment and other benefits to which the tenant is entitled. Similarly, if the landlord is aware of an impending disaster or other event that will affect the building and its tenants, the law recognizes that he/she has a responsibility to mitigate the risk to the greatest degree possible.
Tenants’ liability for landlord’s negligence is one of the more complex areas of the law in the UK. The courts have, over the years, developed an understanding of what tenants are capable of reasonably protecting themselves against. While there is no general right to tenants to sue their landlords in order to hold them responsible for their injuries and losses, tenants can bring lawsuits under common law or statutory law to hold their landlords accountable for injuries occurring on their premises. There are, however, a few exclusions to this general right to tenants to bring lawsuits. These exclusions are typically referred to as “special damages,” and they include negligence caused by members of the landlord’s family (including parents, grandparents, siblings, and children), employees of the landlord, and rental agents.