Murphy & Grantland was retained to defend a residential landlord against a premises liability case filed in Magistrate’s Court. Attorney Cameron Stephenson achieved a dismissal of Plaintiff’s claim with prejudice. Cameron successfully argued that there is no recognizable duty, under South Carolina common or statutory law, obligating a residential landlord to maintain the premises of a leased private residence for a third-party. 

Cameron’s argument had two major points. First, South Carolina common law does not recognize any duty obligating a landlord to maintain the premises, absent a contractual agreement or statute providing otherwise. Second, while the common law duty was modified by the South Carolina Residential Landlord Act, this statute did not create a cause of action allowing a third-party to sue a landlord. Rather the Act allows a residential tenant to bring an action against a residential landlord under certain circumstances. South Carolina Courts have only held a residential landlord liable to a third-party for a defect at a residence when the third-party was injured in a common area and the landlord had either actual or constructive notice of the defect in the common area.

In the Complaint, the Plaintiff acknowledged he was not a tenant. Also, Plaintiff alleged in the Complaint that the property where he allegedly fell was a single-family dwelling. Plaintiff did not allege that he fell in a common area. 

The Court ultimately agreed with Cameron’s argument and dismissed the Plaintiff’s Complaint with prejudice.