In the recent case of Yeung v Santosa Realty Co Pty Ltd  VCA 7, the Supreme Court of Victoria considered who is liable for tenant’s injury when caused by a property under a residential lease. In 2014 a residential tenant slipped at night on the back stairs of a property she was leasing causing her to fracture her right ankle. The stairs had no handrail, were worn, unlit and slippery. The tenant reported her injury to the real estate agent who arranged the necessary rectification works.
The tenant then brought proceedings for negligence in the County Court of Victoria against the owner of the premises and the Agent. Initially the Court held that both parties had breached their duty of care and were liable for damages. Liability was apportioned two thirds to the landlord and one third to the tenant. On appeal, the Court found that the Landlord had delegated his DOC to the Agent and consequently was entitle to indemnification from the Agent. In considering whether a landlord could discharge their duty to avoid foreseeable risk of injury to tenants, the Court held that in certain circumstances it can be delegated to a Real Estate Agent. It is crucial for managing real estate agents to appreciate their obligations pursuant to an agreement with a landlord, particularly those relating to the scope of property inspections and maintenance.