LANDLORD DUTY TO REPAIR PREMISES: MILLER V. CUNDIFF (COA 5/11/2007)

MILLER V. CUNDIFF
TORTS: PREMISED LIABILITY – DUTY TO REPAIR;  LANDLORD LIABILITY TO TENANT FOR OPEN AND OBVIOUS DEFECTS IN CARPET

2005-CA-002536
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING W/WINE PJ AND HENRY AND BUCKINGHAM CONCURRING
DATE RENDERED: 5/11/2007

Appellant-tenant appeals from a grant of SJ against her in a suit claiming personal injuries due to landlord’s failure to repair premises. CA affirms.

Tenant claims landlord promised to repair a gap in the carpet between two rooms in an apartment repeatedly, both before and after the lease was signed. The lease was silent on the repair, however. A two months after moving in, tenant tripped on the carpet and fell, breaking her wrist. She sued for personal injuries, arguing that the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (URLTA) abrogated the common law rule that the landlord has no duty to repair leased premises in the absence of an agreement to do so. Landlord argues that the tenant takes the premises as she finds them and he has no liability for open and obvious conditions.

CA holds that, even if the landlord promised to repair the carpet, he is not liable for injuries for a breach, only the cost of the repair. CA holds that URLTA does not abrogate the common law rule in Kentucky because the legislature’s intent to do so must be clearly apparent. KRS 383.510 indicates that URLTA was intended to supplement, not replace, the common law. Also, Kentucky authorizes individual counties to adopt URLTA, but does not mandate it statewide.

Digested by John Hamlet

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