Renting a home or apartment has its benefits and drawbacks. While you do not have financial responsibility for major repairs or renovations, you also do not have control over many circumstances on the property. In a multi-unit dwelling, you may deal with neighbors who are loud or inconsiderate. You may also be at the mercy of a landlord who is not always quick about taking care of important matters around the property.
If your landlord is not mindful of the fact that children live and play on the property, you may have concerns about safety. Children think differently than adults do, and where you see danger, they only see adventure. This is the basis of attractive nuisance laws.
How the law protects your kids
An attractive nuisance can be anything that may attract children as well as harm them. Perhaps the most common example is a swimming pool. Pennsylvania and most other states require swimming pools to have fences of a certain height surrounding them to prevent accidental drownings. If your landlord does not have a fence with a sturdy gate around a pool on the property, he or she may be liable for any injuries or deaths of children who wander too close to the edge.
Typically, natural features, such as a pond or stream, are not the responsibility of a landlord. Man-made hazards that may attract children are those about which the law is most concerned. The family of an injured child may have cause to hold the property owner liable if the following circumstances exist:
- The property owner knows about the hazard.
- He or she knows the hazard may attract a child.
- The landlord suspects the hazard could cause injury to a child.
- The property owner fails to take measures to eliminate or secure the hazard, even though to do so would not be unreasonably expensive.
Some examples of attractive nuisances include construction debris, abandoned buildings, discarded appliances and machinery. If your child suffers injuries, the court must take under consideration the age and maturity of the child and any efforts the property owner may have made to protect your child from danger. Nevertheless, if the owner of the property where you live neglects to take reasonable steps to keep the place safe for the children of you and other tenants, you may wish to seek advice about your legal options.