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City agency risks premises liability for decaying properties

These blogs are posted on behalf of Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

The housing authority in one Pennsylvania city is proud that it has renovated and repaired hundreds of the properties under its ownership. However, there are thousands of buildings that have been deemed unsafe or even in imminent danger of collapse by local building inspectors. Over a hundred of these are owned by that city's housing authority, putting the agency at risk for premises liability claims.

Despite repeated citations for violations by the Department of Licenses and Inspections, many of the housing authority's buildings continue to deteriorate. Six buildings are imminently dangerous and 99 more are judged to be unsafe. Some remain vacant with severe fire damage, failing roofs and crumbling walls. A number of the structures have not been boarded up, leaving them open for children to play in. Neighbors worry that their homes will be damaged if the disintegrating buildings fall.

The housing authority has been ordered to demolish buildings that are near collapse. The demolition of a building can cost around $17,000, and the housing authority claims it is doing its best with its limited funds. However, the DLI for the city has taken matters into its own hands and scheduled demolition for the most treacherous buildings with the intention of sending the bill to the housing authority.

Citizens in Pennsylvania who fail to maintain their buildings and property risk premises liability suits if someone is injured. In the case of these dilapidated buildings, someone who is simply passing by risks injury from the instability of the structures. People who are hurt by debris or other dangers on someone else's property often enlist the help of an attorney to potentially recover medical expenses and compensation for their suffering. Taking legal action may also compel a property owner to correct the dangers before someone else is hurt.

This blog entry was posted on behalf of Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC, and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

Source: nbcphiladelphia.com, "NBC10 Investigators Expose Crumbling, Leaning PHA Buildings", Mitch Blacher, Aug. 26, 2016

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