Too risky to operate business out of an old house?

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Too risky to operate business out of an old house?

I own a small mental health practice and am looking to expand to include 4-5 additional mental health providers. I am looking at an older home to lease. Upon getting an estimate for minor work that needs to be completed, the contractor shared that there are subtle differences in the steepness and depth of the steps, and indicated that they are not up to current building code. I am wondering if this creates a substantial liability for us, as we will be having able-bodied clients walking up and down steps routinely. As long as we have good liability insurance, would this be covered? When I talked to an insurance company about this, they said they never consider the stairs as a criteria for an application. However, I am assuming that multiple claims would cause our rates to go up. Is this a risk that most

Asked on March 7, 2017 under Business Law, Kentucky

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Not following current code does not of itself make you liable (though if someone does sue, code compliance or noncompliance can be evidence of how safe--or not safe--the premises were). The real issue is whether the property is "reasonably" safe for its intended use; if it is, then you should not face any unusual risk of liability. (Getting adequate insurance is always a good idea, however.) A good rule of thumb: are other businesses like yours operated out of similar strutures, with similar construction or layout? If so, doing so is likely reasonable; if not, there is a good chance that the building would be unreasonable for the intended use, and you should, if possible, select a different location.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Not following current code does not of itself make you liable (though if someone does sue, code compliance or noncompliance can be evidence of how safe--or not safe--the premises were). The real issue is whether the property is "reasonably" safe for its intended use; if it is, then you should not face any unusual risk of liability. (Getting adequate insurance is always a good idea, however.) A good rule of thumb: are other businesses like yours operated out of similar strutures, with similar construction or layout? If so, doing so is likely reasonable; if not, there is a good chance that the building would be unreasonable for the intended use, and you should, if possible, select a different location.


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