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Tamayo v. Borough of Lodi

BER-L-856-01 (N.J. Super. Law Div. 2001) (Unpublished)

SIDEWALKS—A single family home that has been unoccupied for fifteen years is still considered a residential property for the purpose of relieving its owner of the responsibility of making sidewalk repairs.

A pedestrian was injured when she slipped and fell on a hole in a sidewalk adjacent to a homeowner’s property. The street on which she fell was maintained by the county. The homeowner testified that the municipality replaced the sidewalk and that she never did anything to worsen the condition of the sidewalk and nor did she attempt to repair it. The homeowner claimed that New Jersey law does not require the owners of residential property to repair defective sidewalks, therefore, as a matter of law she could not be held responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries. The county claimed it could not be held responsible because it did not own, control or maintain the sidewalks and therefore did not owe the pedestrian a duty of care. The Court noted that New Jersey law does not require residential owners to maintain the sidewalks, but does require commercial owners to do so. In this case, the property was residential as opposed to commercial even though it was a single family dwelling that had not been occupied by tenants for fifteen years. As a result, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of the homeowner and the county.

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