California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1007. Sidewalk Abutting Property

[An owner of/A lessee of/An occupier of/One who controls] property must avoid creating an unsafe condition on the surrounding public streets or sidewalks.

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • Generally, absent statutory authority to the contrary, a landowner is under no duty to maintain in a safe condition a public street or sidewalk abutting his property (Sexton v. Brooks (1952) 39 Cal.2d 153, 157 [245 P.2d 496]). However, “[a]n abutting owner has always had a duty to refrain from affirmative conduct which would render the sidewalk dangerous to the public.” (Selger v. Steven Brothers, Inc. (1990) 222 Cal.App.3d 1585, 1592 [272 Cal.Rptr. 544], internal citations omitted.)
  • The occupier must maintain his or her land in a manner so as not to injure the users of an abutting street or sidewalk. (Swanberg v. O’Mectin (1984) 157 Cal.App.3d 325, 330 [203 Cal.Rptr. 701]; Lompoc Unified School Dist. v. Superior Court (1993) 20 Cal.App.4th 1688, 1693 [26 Cal.Rptr.2d 122].)
  • “An ordinance requiring the abutting landowner to maintain the sidewalk would be construed to create a duty of care to third persons only if the ordinance clearly and unambiguously so provided.” (Selger, supra, 222 Cal.App.3d at p. 1590, internal citations omitted.)
  • “Persons who maintain walkways—whether public or private—are not required to maintain them in absolutely perfect condition. ‘The duty of care imposed on a property owner, even one with actual notice, does not require the repair of minor defects.’ The rule is no less applicable in a privately owned townhome development. Moreover, what constitutes a minor defect may be a question of law.” (Cadam v. Somerset Gardens Townhouse HOA (2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 383, 388–389 [132 Cal.Rptr.3d 617], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 1090–1093

Friedman et al., California Practice Guide: Landlord-Tenant, Ch. 6-A, Liability For Defective Conditions On Premises, ¶ 6:1 et seq. (The Rutter Group)

Friedman et al., California Practice Guide: Landlord-Tenant, Ch. 6-B, Landlord Liability For Injuries From Acts Of Others, ¶ 6:48 et seq. (The Rutter Group)

1 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 15, General Premises Liability, § 15.03[4] (Matthew Bender)

11 California Real Estate Law and Practice, Ch. 381, Tort Liability of Property Owners, § 381.03 (Matthew Bender)

17 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 178, Premises Liability, § 178.29 (Matthew Bender)