Appeal from Circuit Court, Multnomah County. William M. Dale, Judge.
Donald C. Walker, Portland, argued the cause and filed a brief for appellant.
Edward H. Warren, Portland, argued the cause for respondents. On the brief were Hershiser, Mitchell & Warren, Portland.
This is an action to recover for personal injuries suffered by plaintiff tenant when she fell on a stairway in an apartment building owned by defendant landlords. Defendants demurred to plaintiff's complaint. The demurrer was sustained and plaintiff appeals.
The complaint alleges that the apartment house was owned by defendants and was located in Portland, Oregon; that plaintiff was a tenant in the apartment house; that plaintiff's apartment consisted of a downstairs and upstairs, with the stairway in question leading to the second floor of the apartment; that defendants failed to provide a handrail on the stairway; that in 1941 when the building was constructed the Portland building code (which is now in effect)
required the owner of premises with stairways over three risers in height to provide handrails; that the stairway on which plaintiff fell was more than three risers in height; that as a result of defendants' negligent failure to provide handrails plaintiff fell and was injured.
Defendants demurred to the complaint on the ground that in an action by a tenant against a landlord for injuries caused by a defect existing at the time the tenant takes possession, the tenant must show that the condition was latent and unknown to the lessee. The demurrer was sustained.
In the absence of a controlling statute or ordinance a lessor is ordinarily not liable to his lessee for injuries caused by a dangerous condition which existed when the lessee took possession.*fn1 To this general rule there are a number of exceptions, the principal one of which is to the effect that the lessor is subject to liability if he fails to disclose to his lessee a dangerous condition which is known to lessor but unknown to the lessee and which the lessor has reason to expect that the lessee will not discover.*fn2
If the common law rules defining the lessor's duty are applicable, then the demurrer was properly sustained because the complaint alleges as the cause of injury a condition which would be known to plaintiff.
Plaintiff, however, contends that the lessor's duty was changed by the ordinance so as to impose liability for injuries caused ...