In separate accidents, plaintiffs were injured when they fell due to the defective conditions of the stairways outside their apartments. Both plaintiffs had signed a form lease with the defendant landlord which contained a broadly worded exculpatory clause. The trial court granted the defendant's request for summary judgment on the ground that the exculpatory clause precluded plaintiffs' suit, and the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed. The Washington Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for trial. Held: An exculpatory clause in a lease of residential housing within a multi-unit apartment complex which totally relieves a landlord from his affirmative duty to maintain "common areas" contravenes long-established rules of tort liability and is invalid as against public policy. McCutcheon v. United Homes Corp., 79 Wn.2d 443, 486 P.2d 1093 (1971).
Landlord-Tenant—Exculpatory Clauses: Exculpation Contrary to Public Policy When It Totally Relieves a Landlord from the Duty to Maintain Common Areas—McCutcheon v. United Homes Corp., 79 Wn.2d 443, 486 P.2d 1093 (1971,
47 Wash. L. Rev.
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