Deck safety

Jan asks:
(updated on Monday, October 08th 2018)

We have recently purchased and tenanted a 1950s built house with a small deck approximately one storey above ground level. The deck has an old style metal railing that could be climbed by an adventurous toddler. The tenants have a four year old and lots of whanau come to visit. Who is liable if someone should injure themselves falling from the deck? The building had a permit at the time it was built, but the deck would not meet code of compliance by today's standards.

Our Experts Answer:

If you have a deck that you do not consider to be safe, and you think a four year old could climb the railing and fall one storey to the ground, then you should make it safe yourself. Your ultimate responsibility as a landlord is to provide a property that is safe for the people who live there. It may be argued that the tenants are responsible for keeping the child from climbing, but it’s not a pleasant topic of conversation if a child has had a severe accident. If not these tenants or the people whom they invite onto the property, then the next family may be vulnerable. In other words, if you think it’s unsafe, get it fixed.

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