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Your landlord's response to an attractive nuisance

Apartment living has its advantages, especially when it comes to taking responsibility for upkeep. If you live in an apartment, you probably appreciate when your landlord responds promptly to your requests for repairs or maintenance. Of course, this may not be the norm, and you may be like many tenants who wait an unreasonable amount of time before help arrives.

This may be worrisome to you if you have children who are in danger of being injured by a hazard on the property you rent. Your landlord is responsible for keeping the property as safe as possible for tenants and visitors, and this includes addressing any attractive nuisances that may exist.

What is an attractive nuisance?

If your landlord has a swimming pool for tenant use, New Jersey law requires that he or she place a strong protection, such as a fence with a locked gate, around the pool. This is to prevent children from wandering near an unattended pool and falling in. A swimming pool is an example of an attractive nuisance, which can be anything that lures children onto the property but places them in danger of injury. Other common examples of an attractive nuisance include the following:

  • Fountains, hot tubs or other water features
  • Piles of debris or construction materials
  • Machinery, including tractors, golf carts or lawn mowers
  • Trampolines or play equipment, like bounce houses
  • Appliances that remain unlocked or still have their doors attached
  • Unsupervised dogs

A landlord who knows such hazards are on the property, who understands that they could attract and injure a child, and does nothing to remedy the problem may be liable for any injuries your child suffers.

What should my landlord do?

Your landlord has several choices for dealing with an attractive nuisance. The most complete remedy is to remove the hazard altogether, but this may not be possible. Some property owners believe they have fulfilled their obligation by placing warning signs on the property. However, your child may not be able to read or may be too enticed by the attractive nuisance to notice signs or appreciate their meaning.

If the landlord cannot remove the hazard, he or she must find a way to secure it, such as locking it in a shed or putting a fence around it. However, the courts may excuse a landlord if the cost of securing an attractive nuisance is too great. Nevertheless, you have the right to pursue justice if your landlord has not taken the proper precautions to protect you and your child. An attorney can assist you in filing a claim in civil court.

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