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Injuries in a rental property: Your rights as a tenant

Keys to a rental property | Shine Lawyers

Who is responsible when a tenant is injured in a rental property? Is the landlord liable, or is it up to the tenant to watch out for dangers? As the outcomes of different court cases show, it really depends on the specific situation.

Who is responsible for a tenant’s safety?

By law, landlords are required to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of a property and its tenants. But before a landlord can be held liable, two things must be demonstrated:

  1. A property has to be in some way defective according to the requirements of the Building Code of Australia; and
  2. The landlord knew or should have known about the defect.

What to do if you’re injured

As a tenant, you may be able to make a public liability claim if you incur injuries on a property. For a successful claim, you must be able to demonstrate you sustained a physical or psychological injury above a certain threshold (5% whole person impairment for physical, and 10% for psychological). Following an accident, you should seek medical treatment for your injuries, and notify your landlord as soon as possible.

Landlord’s responsibilities

Landlords have a duty to ensure the safety of the property in several ways. These include ensuring that installations like gas and electricity are working, and maintaining the safety of appliances. Another ongoing responsibility landlords have is to regularly check smoke detectors. A state-by-state breakdown of all landlords’ duties is available here.


Different cases, different outcomes

The law surrounding a landlords’ liability is not always straightforward, and the case law demonstrates the different outcomes that can arise.

In 2005, a tenant at an Ashfield rental property was seriously injured after his hand shattered a large glass panel on the front door. He sued the property’s owner, and its managing rental agent, Century 21 Brough and Son. The judge found the owner and management agent were responsible for his injuries because they failed to install safety glass on the panel during its last repair, after it had already become mandatory.

Compare this to the case of Sheehy v. Hobbs. Ms Sheehy became a partial paraplegic after falling down the stairs at her rental property. The court found the stairs could have been safer by installing a handrail and better lighting. However, His Honour Justice McMeekin ruled that the landlord had no knowledge of the issues and could not have reasonably been expected to identify them.

Shine Lawyers – Get in touch

If you or a loved one has been injured in their rental property, get in touch with Shine Lawyers’ public liability experts. We can assess your situation and advise you of all your available options under the law.

Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: March 14, 2018.

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  • Irene wrote:

    Hi I am renting a unit and it has water ingress The linen press which smell like ammonia , according to the owners and property manager its just a dampness issue but the plumber said its a leak in the wall and has been like it for years even the owners said so and laughed .

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Irene, our expertise is in compensation claims, particularly personal injury (i.e. if you had been injured as a result of the leak) but from your comment it sounds like you need assistance with resolving the issue with the owners to get the leak fixed. If you contact the Law Society in your state they should be able to point you in the right direction and let you know what your rights as a tenant are. ~Steph

  • shane buttling wrote:

    i have been renting a property for 6 months now they have built a granny flat out the back and had left 3 power cable running through our part of the fenced off property and when moving bags from my garden shed to the outdoor deck my feet got tangled in these cables and i feel to the ground hard my wife come to pick me up and me neck was really sore i think from the way it got jerked around when hitting the ground i had reported this to my real estate and they didnt really care 3 weeks on my neck is still killing me stiff all the time frequent headaches and light headed sometimes feeling nausea

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Shane, sorry to hear about your injury. If you contact our New Client Team they will be able to get further details from you about the accident and put you in touch with our Public Liability team if we are able to help with a claim. You can find our contact details here: ~Steph

  • Megan wrote:

    I slipped on the stairs going up to my house. There had been a light shower of rain earlier. As a result I have 2 black eyes, possibly a broken nose and have broken one front tooth a d the othe front tooth had been extracted because the root was shattered

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Sorry to hear about your fall Megan. If you get in touch with our New Client Team they’ll be able to get a few more details from you and let you know if we’re able to help with a claim. You can find our contact details here: ~Steph

  • Pamela Ryland wrote:

    A piece of Concrete came off the corner edge of the Pool (as I went to retrieve some leaves,) I crashed & fell heavily hitting my head grazing my chin my hand & worst of all splitting my Patella. (Knee) Over couple of days agony set in with much pain & swelling & sleepless nights, went to Concord Hospital they discovered the extent of the injury by Ultra Sound & Xrays ….we have lived in this house as a family (of 7) for 12 years almost … (the Owners are reasonable but Agent uncooperative & drags repairs out over long time.) Currently I’m suffering here it’s already beginning to cost me extra, on an Aged Pension find it annoying that I’m spending extra to my meagre budget …Painkillers, splint for leg, extra Petrol… now at 70 I don’t want this pain & suffering… Are the landlords liable for this ….they know the Pools condition as they’ve been here many times … I’m also worried about the risk of them throwing us out …we’ve been great tenants all along – (even through flooding etc., ) how do we stand in this situation. Many thanks in advance … Pamela.

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Sorry to hear about your situation Pamela. We’ll need a little bit more information to be able to advise on the best course of action. If you speak with a member of our New Client Team they will be able to get further details from you and put you in touch with our Public Liability team if we are able to help with a claim. Our contact details can be found here: ~Steph

  • Marilyn wrote:

    In the process of doing the Exit Clean, I had to clean all windows as part of the checklist. The handle to open the glass louvres in the toilet, was broken, and it had been noted on the Entry Condition Report, but never repaired during the 6 month tenancy. While trying to clean the glass without access to an opener, the glass snapped completely and has cut off the back of 1 finger. I told the Real Estate and they didn’t care.

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Marilyn, if you get in touch with our New Client Team they will be able to get more information from you about the situation and let you know if we’re able to help with a claim. You can find our contact details here: ~Steph

  • Amanda Thomson wrote:

    Hi guys , i fell in my backyard fracturing my wrist and coccyx, i slipped backwards from a natural step,
    It’s not a safe step and there are multiple unsafe areas in the yard. My wrist is bolted and plated, the Dr stated this is a serious injury, I also fractured my coccyx and the Drs have stated there’s nothing more they can do. Would I have a claim?

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for contacting us and sorry to hear about our experience. We’ll need more information to help determine the best course of action. A member of our New Client Team will be able to gather more details, talk through the services we offer and let you know if we can help. Contact details are here: ~Toby

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