I am leasing some land that is owned by the city. If someone was to get injured on this land, whom would be at fault, me or the city?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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I am leasing some land that is owned by the city. If someone was to get injured on this land, whom would be at fault, me or the city?

I am wanting to place a
Private Property/No
Trespassing Sign on the land I
lease from the city. Do I have
the right in doing so?

Asked on April 5, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You would most likely be at fault, since you are leasing the land, you are in possession of and control of it and so are responsible for keeping it safe. That doesn't mean you are liable for any/every injury on it--just owning or leasing land does not automatically make you liable; you would be liable if there is some dangerous condition on the land (e.g. you leave or dump tools or trash there which could injure someone; you do not fill in holes or divots that could turn an ankle or trip someone; etc.) which caused the injury and which you caused or at least failed to correct. (The city could be liable if the dangerous condition both predated you leasing the land and was NOT apparent to you, so would not be expected to control or correct it.)
You may put up no-trespassing-type signs so long as your lease with the city or any city zoning or other property rules do not bar placing such signs. (E.g. my town has  a law which prevents *all* signs on private property.)

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