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Do You Have a Case? Facts and FAQ’s About Premises Liability

In California, if you are injured on someone else’s property, and your injury resulted from an unsafe condition, you may have a legal claim against the property owner. Here are some FAQ’s about California premises liability and your rights under state law.

What kinds of property are covered by California law?

Property includes stores, parking lots, and other commercial buildings and their surrounds. It also includes job sites, including constructions sites, and land and buildings owned or controlled by municipal entities such as cities and towns, water districts, and the state itself.

What does the law require of property owners?

The person who owns or controls a property has a duty under the law to maintain that property in a safe condition for anyone who enters the property, including visitors, customers, suppliers, contractors and other tradespeople, and workers.

What kinds of unsafe conditions are covered?

The property owner is responsible for unsafe conditions that the owner created or allowed to develop. Examples would be broken pavement that made a walkway unsafe, an unsafe elevator that is not repaired, a failure to keep stairwells properly lit, or a spill that was not cleaned up. Property owners or their designated representatives are expected to show reasonable diligence in inspecting property for hazards, and seeing that they are resolved.

Are unsafe conditions on job sites covered?

The California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 is very clear about employers’ obligation to assure that employees have a safe and healthful workplace. This would include maintaining halls and stairwells in the workplace free of hazards, installation and use of safety equipment on machinery and provision of appropriate safety equipment for workers.

Are there other kinds of unsafe conditions?

Here is a list of additional conditions that frequently lead to injuries:

  • Trash or debris left where it can be a hazard
  • Broken or missing railings
  • Broken steps
  • Exposed electric wires
  • A hole left uncovered, and without warning signage
  • Failure to install smoke alarms, or smoke alarms not working >
  • Lack of security lighting, or lighting not working
  • Emergency exits not marked, or locked during working hours
  • Hazardous materials not stored safely.
  • Vehicles, tools, and other potentially dangerous objects not stored securely
  • Warning about worksite hazards absent or inadequate

What can I do if unsafe conditions on someone else’s property caused my injury?

If you have been seriously injured because of unsafe conditions, you may have a claim against the person or entity that controls the property. You should consult as soon as possible with an experienced premises liability lawyer, who can help you determine how to proceed?

Why do I need to act as soon as possible?

If there is any question of negligence, it is critical to talk to witnesses while their memories are fresh, and to gather evidence before it is destroyed or lost. Moving quickly on your concern can improve your prospects of a successful resolution.

How do expert witnesses get involved in premises liability lawsuits?

An experienced premises liability lawyer may work with safety experts, including safety engineers who can testify about safety standards and legal requirement and point out the ways that a property owner failed to meet those requirements.

Lawsuits can be expensive. How can I pay for my case?

Premises liability lawyers usually work out a contingent fee agreement. This means that the lawyer will be paid only if the client’s case is resolved successfully, either by a negotiated settlement with the property owner, or if this is not possible, by a court case resulting in a judgment in favor of the claimant. The lawyer’s fee is an agreed-on percentage of the settlement. A contingent fee arrangement is helpful for many people, because the person who has been injured does not have to front any money for the cost of filing, depositions, expert witness fees and other costs of prosecuting an expensive lawsuit.

Rental Properties Offer Tax Deductions

Rental properties are becoming one of the rising options for people who cannot either afford a home amidst fluctuating home prices in most real estate markets, or those who choose to wait until the ripe time comes for a healthier real estate industry condition. Whatever purpose rental homes serve, the landlords are the actual ones affected by compounded responsibilities. One of the main concerns for landlords is having to pay for multiple taxes.

A thing most landlords forget in assessing taxes to be paid for is their deductibles. And this unfortunate event is caused by non-information of the available tax deductions they could actually take advantage of. It is little known fact that rental properties are the real estate investments that could be rewarded with many tax benefits.

Tax deductions for landlords and owners of rental properties could be constituted of just about any expense regarded for the improvement, management and conservation of the properties. Just like any other owners claim for their respective businesses, landlords must always remember to treat their properties as commodities that offer services to many consumers that are tenants in this case. Here are some top tax deductions landlords should take note of in filing tax statements:

Property interests

These expenses could be one of the major tax deductions a landlord could claim. Landlords should take note of the interest payments they take out for all their rental properties. Payments on interests for mortgage, loans and credit cards are only a few of the common examples landlords could include as tax deductibles. However, the payments should all be proven utilized for the improvement of the rental property or employing a rental activity.

Property repairs and improvements

Rental properties are usually susceptible to frequent repairs as tenants vary regularly, especially for short-term contracts. In any case, the landlords could list down all the repairs and improvements done for the rental home. These are fully deductible in the fiscal year the repairs have been doled out. Some of the major repairs feasible for tax deductions are repainting jobs, fixing interiors like walls or insulation boards, refurbishing pipes, leaks, gutters, floors, replacement of broken windows, doors and fixtures, maintenance of landscaping and other utilities.

Depreciation of property and items in it

The actual cost of the rental property of any type – a home or apartment building, could not be deducted in the year this has been currently paid for. On the other hand, the deductions could be in the form of the depreciated value of the property; wherein a portion of the property cost could be deducted as it has been in the landlord’s full ownership over several years.

The landlord could also deduct the costs of the furniture and fixtures in depreciated value, included in the rental property. These may include washing machines, gas range or oven, refrigerators, among others.

Travel expenses with regards to rental activity

It may seem an “over claim” if landlords even include these. However, landlords are actually entitled to claim such because these are part of expenses delegated for the business. Especially for landlords who are away from the rental properties, these could entail many tax deductions. If the landlord’s vehicle, of any type, model or size, there are ways to deduct vehicle expenses vis-à-vis rental activity, like going to rental property as some complaints need to be settled.

Here are the options:

Deduct actual expenses for the travel – gasoline, maintenance and repairs for the vehicle.

Use the standard mileage rate. The rates are: 55 cents per mile for 2009; 58.5 cents per mile for July 1, 2008 to the end of 2008; 50.5 cents per mile from the start of 2008 to June 30, 2008. To be able to qualify for this method, the landlord must use this method immediately the vehicle has been used for the rental business activities. This method could not be used when there is already an existing claim for accelerated depreciation deductions or Section 179 deduction for the vehicle.

Other expenses like hotel bills, airfare, meals and other travel costs going to long distance rental properties could be considered as tax deductibles. Proper paperwork must accompany authenticity of these expenses like receipts or bill statements.

Other expenses that are deductibles are compensations for employees, contractors and legal services, office maintenance, insurance payments, losses due to casualty and theft. All these expenses could be deducted from taxes as long as these are acquired for the rental property services and activities, along with proper certifications.

The State of Singapore Property In 2010

In a country where 1 in 10 people are millionaires (defined as having at least US$1 million in investible assets, excluding property), Singapore’s real estate prices have surged to new highs after dipping momentarily in 2009. The average prices for private residential homes in particular, have risen more than 38 per cent for the year to June 30th 2010, well surpassing the historical peak achieved in 1996. The exuberance is so pronounced that it is not uncommon to see private apartments costing S$1 million to be sold out during a launch.

Singapore’s red-hot property market is fueled by easy credit and low interest rates, and an economy that expanded a mind-boggling 18 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2010. The huge demand for residential property is also being driven up by the influx of immigrants, as the island republic works towards its ambition of achieving a 6 million population by 2012.

The question that is being asked by everyone now is whether Singapore property prices is in a bubble?

According to the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS), first time home buyers currently use 36 per cent of their monthly income on average to service their housing loans every month, well below the 50 per cent ratio achieved at the peak of the 1997 property boom. Most property analysts observed that a less than 40 per cent “affordability rate” indicates that Singapore property is still affordable.

However, like Australia, China and Hong Kong, Singapore’s government is not taking any chances and has moved to cool down the property market for a third time this year, amid fears of an unsustainable bubble. Last month, the government announced that it would impose a 3 percent tax on resales within the first 3 years of purchase, up from the previous one-year. The minimum deposit on second homes will also be raised from the current 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the purchase price. In addition, the government announced a stepped-up schedule for the release of land for the second half of 2010.

The government’s relaxation of certain housing policies will also make the common Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats more affordable to Singaporeans earning between S$8,000 and S$10,000, and who did not previously qualify for CPF housing grants for their purchase. This group of “sandwiched class” buyers have been snapping up private homes in the past year and thus, market observers opined that the policy change would shrink the pool of buyers upgrading from public housing to a private property, causing demand for private homes to soften.

In reaction, real estate developers may also hold back on property launches, and turn to preview sales instead. The majority of market analysts also expect these developers to be less aggressive in their bids for state land.

Market watchers are not surprised by the government’s series of measures to cool the housing market, in fact, some felt it is long overdue. Most analysts polled expect the latest moves to dampen Singapore’s private home sales by 20 per cent for the rest of 2010. Despite this blip, the prices of private homes are still projected to grow by up to 6 per cent for the second half of the year.

Overall, Singapore properties largely remain a highly attractive investment vehicle for those seeking higher returns than bank deposits and a hedge against inflation. However, the government is certain to implement more cooling measures should prices continue to rise rapidly.