Wilmington Vacation Rental Property Accident Attorney
Injured On Vacation
A relaxing weekend or long summer vacation can turn tragic when injuries occur due to the negligence of a rental property owner or property management company. In North Carolina, vacation property owners and rental management companies have a duty to keep their rental houses, condos, decks, and properties in a safe and habitable condition to avoid injury to their renters. If you have suffered injuries due to defective or dangerous rental property in North Carolina, protect your rights by calling a Wilmington personal injury lawyer at Rhine Law Firm, P.C.
When Time Off Becomes Tragedy Due to Vacation Rental Property Accidents
Individuals and rental companies that provide vacation homes to rent must adhere to state building and maintenance codes. However, determining fault and liability for injuries is challenging due to the disconnect that exists between homeowners and rental management companies.
Communication regarding important inspections and maintenance is minimal, if it occurs at all. Homeowners are only in their rental homes a few times a year and place trust in their rental company. The lack of contact can result in injuries from:
- Deck collapses
- Boat dock and pier collapses
- Poorly maintained or poorly lit walkways and access paths
- Improperly cleaned hot tubs
- Saltwater air damage to building materials
The North Carolina Vacation Rental Act
Legislators recognized the size and growth of the tourism industry within the state, and how owners of private residences rent their properties for vacation and leisure purposes. The Act was implemented to regulate the responsibilities among landlords, brokers of real estate, and the renters (tenants). Vacation rental properties are rented for periods less than 90 days by individuals who have a place of residence that they will be returning to. The Act does not apply to hotels, motels, camps, dwellings rented for traveling business or employment reasons, or rentals that will be the primary residence of the tenant.
Vacation Rental Agreements (VRA)
A VRA is a required written document signed by landlords, real estate brokers, and tenants for the purpose of renting a vacation property. The terms will contain the required payment(s) to be obtained from the tenant. Other details will include advance deposits to secure the rental and the tenant’s responsibilities for any damage caused. The VRA should contain details about fees for processing, cleaning, eviction details, and other obligations of the landlord, broker, or tenant. The contract is a binding agreement according to North Carolina law, regardless of the state of primary residence of the tenant.
Responsibilities of Landlord and Broker
Landlords of vacation rental properties must comply with applicable building and housing codes. They must conduct maintenance and repairs necessary for the conditions to be habitable and safe. Some items which may need service include plumbing, electrical, heating, appliances, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Brokers who are responsible for property management on behalf of the landlord shall adhere to the VRA terms: this includes notifying the landlord of needed repairs and facilitating their completion. In addition, they too must check smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries, although ultimate liability for detectors rests with the landlord.
Tenant Maintenance Responsibilities
Tenants are to keep areas of occupancy clean, safe, and sanitary, which includes plumbing fixtures, and proper garbage and waste disposal.
They are to avoid damaging, destroying, or disabling any parts of property or detection devices. They must notify the landlord of needed repair or maintenance concerns. Damages caused by the tenant that are beyond normal "wear and tear" may be paid for by the landlord using tenant funds from the advanced rental deposit.
North Carolina Premises Liability Law
Premises liability law involves the duty or obligation of owners to keep their property reasonably safe for lawful visitors. Lawful visitors are those legally on the property - not trespassers. If there are possibly dangerous conditions, owners must inform visitors, as failing to do so creates potential liability for injuries. Financial compensation for the injured may include medical expenses, lost wages, lost future earnings, disfigurement, and emotional distress. In the event that the owner is determined to have willfully, maliciously, or fraudulently caused the injury, punitive damages may be added to punish the owner and serve as a deterrent. The owner’s insurance company is likely the entity that actually pays for the damages. The property owner is defined based on the circumstances and may be the homeowner, business owner, or municipality. The requirements for proving premises liability are:
- The claimant sustained injury due to a defect or condition on property under the defendant’s ownership or control; or
- An injury was caused by a failure of the defendant(s) to maintain reasonably safe conditions or to warn of conditions they were aware of, or should have been.
Premises Liability Defenses
Under the contributory negligence doctrine, a claimant found to have contributed to the cause of injury is barred from recovering damages. A statute of limitations exists for a three-year period; therefore, a claim must be filed within that period following an accident.
At Rhine Law Firm, P.C., our Wilmington premises liability attorneys have both personal injury and construction accident experience - a combination very useful for vacation rental accident victims. We will help you explore all your legal options in filing a personal injury claim and employ our resources in pursuit of the best outcome.
Injured in a North Carolina Vacation Home? Contact Rhine Law Firm, P.C.
Take action and contact us at (910) 772-9960 or toll free at (866) 772-9960 or through our intake form to discuss your case. We offer free initial consultations with experienced personal injury lawyers. Office hours 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evening and weekend appointments also available. Spanish interpretation and translation services are available to our non-English-speaking clients.
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