When there is construction, is it the city’s responsibility or the landlord’s to pay for damages to a vehicle?

UPDATED: Apr 11, 2012

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When there is construction, is it the city’s responsibility or the landlord’s to pay for damages to a vehicle?

My boyfriend was pulling into his apartment complex and there is usually a dip in front of the driveway that he takes at an angle to not scratch or damage his car. This time, instead of scraping, his entire bumper came off. He went to the complex manager and she said that it “wasn’t their problem” and that “it’s the city’s” problem. Who should take responsibility? Who should he sue?

Asked on April 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Utah


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A landlord is not the insurer of its tenants' property; it is only responsible for damage to tenants' properrty if it (the landlord) 1) caused the damage and 2) was at fault in some way in causing the damage--i.e. that it was either negligent (unreasonably careless) or intentionally caused damage.

If there is constrution ongoing (as your question implies) and that construction made the driveway unsafe, the landlord might be responsible if it is the landlord's construction. However, if it is the city's construction, the landlord would not be responsible for the actions of the city, which is third party not under its control. The city might be responsible or liable, though your boyfriend should be aware that there are special procedural hurdles to holding a municipality liable (e.g. it must have had notice, awareness, or warning of the hazard; there is a shorter-than-usual time period to provide the municipality notice of a claim for damages) which can make it difficult and not cost effective to try to recover from the city.

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