Open/Close Menu
Your Rental Housing Solution
Home · Property Management · Latest News : Court Sides With Landlord Over Storm Damage

landlord helpThe Vermont Supreme Court has just overturned a judgment that had been entered against a landlord in that state when snow and ice from a rooftop fell and crushed the tenant’s car.

The trial court that originally heard the case ruled that the  landlord had violated the implied warranty of habitability when heavy snow and ice fell from the roof of tenants residence onto her parking place, destroying her car. That court awarded damages measured by the difference between the value of the car before the incident and its sale price afterwards.

The landlord appealed the case, arguing that the implied warranty of habitability only protects the tenant herself, and does not extend to her car, and that even if the implied warranty of habitability were to apply, damages would have to be limited to the value of the lease as warranted. The tenant responded by attempting to add a claim for negligence.

But the Supreme Court agreed with the landlord, that while the landlord “will deliver and maintain premises that are safe, clean and fit for human habitation,” this warranty does not extend to personal property.

The Court was also reluctant to allow damages for the loss of the parking space itself as an item of habitability. “While it may be exceptionally inconvenient not to have access to a parking space and therefore access to a car, the absence of a parking space is not an equivalent threat to health and safety as that posed by clogged toilets, raw sewage, and poisoned water.”

It is important to note that the Court did not consider whether the accumulation of ice and snow on the roof over the tenant’s designated parking space constituted negligence on the part of the landlord.

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

  • Jay

    Isn’t the snow/ice falling from the roof is an act of god just like a tree branch falling during a storm. Wondering why defense didn’t argue on that.

  • [email protected]

    Jay has a great point.

    Obviously, landlords need to be responsible for everything in the universe; if a meteor hits the car, clearly the landlord failed to offer anti-asteroid lasers to deflect it like any reasonable property owner already controls… kinda stupid, eh?

    I suppose if the tenant burns down the unit, they’ll just claim that the landlord was negligent by not installing a large flashing sign saying “turn off the oven when done”.

  • steve

    O.K. LETS REMEMBER THE MAJOR POINT HERE, ITS TRUE, THAT LANDLORDS GET BASHED FOR EVERYTHING. BUT FILE THIS AWAY AS A WIN. A WIN THAT CANNOT BE LITIGATED AGAIN, BECAUSE IT IS NOW A PRECEDENT IN LAW. LETS THANK THE LANDLORD FOR FIGHTING THIS FOR US ALL, AND WINNING!!! ALSO REMEMBER TO REVIEW YOUR INSURANCE OFTEN, AND KEEP IT UP TO DATE , MAY WANT TO CONSIDER $1 MILLION UMBRELLA POLICY

  • Doug

    The above decision, while good for us landlords, is only binding within Vermont.
    State court rulings are not binding on the decisions of courts in other states. However, the decision can be used to support similar arguments in other states.

    I learned the above well while trying to fight a landlord licensing law passed in New Haven CT. Such laws or ordinances have been overturned in other areas but those decision were not binding on Connecticut.

    Sometimes we just have to fight the good fight again and again…

  • Anthony Dew

    Although I’da hope for the same ruling this seems very wrong. If you are from a snowy state you know that failure to remove snow and ice from the premises is negligence; the same way that failure to shovel the walkway is. Generally it would be in the landlords interest to remove ice and snow from the roof to maintain the property since not doing so can lead to leaky/caved in roof. There have been several of those this year in MN due to above normal snowfall.

Copyright © 2004 - 2016 AAOA.com. All Rights Reserved.