Many commercial tenants are under the false impression that if an employee is hurt on the job, due to lack of maintenance or repairs in the building, the landlord will be liable for the resulting injuries. However, in New Jersey, that is not always the case.
In McBride v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 295 N.J. Super, 521, 522, 685 A.2d520 (1996), the Court held that a landlord is not liable for personal injuries suffered by the employee of a commercial tenant due to a lack of proper maintenance or repair, when the lease unquestionably places responsibility for [the] maintenance or repair solely upon the tenant. citing Coleman v. Steinberg, 54 N.J. 58, 63, 253 A.2d 167 (1969) (the Court, speaking of the common law, said: In the absence of an agreement to make repairs, the landlord is under no obligation to do so. That burden falls upon the tenant.”)
As a result of the above decisions, a New Jersey landlord will only be held liable if the leasespecifically states the landlord assumes responsibility for the properties repairs and maintenance.
Prior to signing a commercial lease, a tenant must carefully read the document and clarify with the landlord any sections that may be vague or confusing. Tenants must be proactive and know their rights and liabilities to prevent being faced with this harsh reality after an injury has already occurred.& ;