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Naftaly v. D’Alberti

A-1673-98T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)

SIDEWALKS; LIABILITY—Keeping a single-family residence vacant and then selling it for a profit does not, for purposes of imposing liability for a defective sidewalk, convert the property from residential to commercial.

The liability of a property owner for a fall on the sidewalk abutting the property turned on whether the property was residential a or commercial premises. The owner acquired its property by gift. The donor continued to occupy the residence without payment of rent as a condition of the gift. After the donor’s death, the house remained unoccupied for almost two years until it was sold. The accident occurred about three months before the sale. The Court held that the property was undisputedly residential. It did not matter that the owner eventually sold the house and made a “profit.” It also did not matter that the owner maintained “commercial insurance” coverage and that the policy itself was denominated as a “rental dwelling policy.” No rent was ever charged or received. At the time of the accident, the property was a vacant, single-family residence.


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