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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: The appellee, Jayme Newman, sued her landlord, the appellant, Gary A. Kukis, for injuries she sustained when she fell on stairs inside a home she and her husband leased from Kukis. A jury found Newman and Kukis each 50 percent negligent and found total damages of $45,500. The trial court rendered judgment on the verdict and, after credits and offsets, awarded Newman $18,750 plus pre- and post-judgment interest. HOLDING: In a premises liability case, the duty owed depends on the relationship between the parties. Lampasas v. Spring Center Inc., 988 S.W.2d 428 (Tex. App. � Houston [14th Dist.] 1999, no pet.) This rule originates from the notion that a lessor relinquishes possession or occupancy of the premises to the lessee. Texas courts, however, the court recognizes three exceptions to this general no-duty rule. A lessor may be liable for injuries arising from 1. the lessor’s negligent repairs; 2. concealed defects of which the lessor was aware when the premises were leased; and 3. a defect on a portion of the premises that remained under the lessor’s control. Newman relies on the second exception: failure to disclose a concealed defect. When there is no agreement by the landlord to repair the premises and he is not guilty of fraud or concealment by failing to disclose defects existing when the lease is made, he is not liable to the tenant for injuries caused by such defects. Flynn v. Pan Am. Hotel Co., 143 Tex. 219 (1944). As Flynn states, “The tenant takes the property as he finds it, assuming the risk of apparent defects.” Just as the condition of the soil in Brownsville Navigation Dist. v. Izaguirre, 829 S.W.2d 159 (Tex. 1992), was not a condition of which the tenant would not have reason to know, so the absence of the handrail in the present case is not a condition the Newmans would not have had reason to know or that Kukis would have had reason to suspect the Newmans would not discover. Just as the absence of interlocking doors was an apparent condition in Flynn, so the absence of a handrail was an apparent condition in the present case. Although Newman contends Kukis should have warned her about the absence of the handrail, there is no evidence he concealed the lack of a handrail from her. There was evidence the cost of reinstalling the handrail was negligible: approximately thirty minutes of time and $31 in supplies. Notwithstanding Kukis’s testimony that staircases are “inherently dangerous,” there is no evidence anyone ever fell on the subject staircase before the occurrence at issue. Moreover, the alleged defective condition on the staircase was not hidden. Finally, there was controverted evidence suggesting the addition of a handrail could complicate moving larger furniture up the stairs. Considering the general no-duty rule found in the Restatement, the lack of any evidence of concealment, and the factors relevant to the imposition of a duty, the court holds, under the circumstances of the present case, Kukis owned no duty to Newman. OPINION: John S. Anderson, J.

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