Apartment landlords have basic duties to ensure the safety of their tenants. While courts have not required landlords to take extraordinary measures, they are increasingly permitting tenants to sue landlords when landlords fail to take basic measures to protect their tenants’ safety. New York’s highest state court permitted a woman to sue her landlord after an ex-convict attacked her in her apartment. The man beat and raped her after he got into the apartment complex. The woman sued the building owners for failing to properly staff the security desk or secure the complex, and she sued the firm that provided security for negligently performing its security contract.
The woman’s case was particularly strong because the landlord knew the ex-convict well. He had relatives in the complex, police had arrested him several times for criminal acts in the complex (including robbery, attempted rape, and the beating of a security guard), and the landlord kept an arrest photo of him. When landlords have a particular reason to be on guard for criminal activity, courts are more likely to find them liable for crimes on their tenants and guests. A Lufkin injury lawyer will discuss your options with you if a landlord’s negligence caused you injury in your apartment complex.
Apartment Landowner Liability
Here are some of the more important aspects of landlord liability that tenants should be aware of:
- If a landlord knows about dangerous conditions on apartment property and does not tell his or her tenants, a court could hold the landlord liable if someone is injured. This includes everything from a broken stair to dangerous dog that belongs to one tenant or a string of recent robberies or assaults.
- A court will generally not hold a landlord liable if a tenant creates the dangerous condition him- or herself and does not report it to the landlord.
- Landlords have a duty to inspect apartment complexes to ensure that they are reasonably safe from dangerous conditions. This includes safety concerns such as inadequate or broken lighting or security issues such as gaps in fences or a lack of child safety precautions surrounding an apartment pool.
- An important, general legal standard for landlord liability is that that landlord must have known, not merely should have known, about the dangerous conditions. This standard asks: how foreseeable was the accident or crime? If something has occurred for the first time, a court will likely not conclude that a landlord could have foreseen that.
- Another standard that courts use for landlord liability is to consider how much it would have cost the landlord to take preventive steps. For example, if an apartment complex is in a high crime area, courts might expect landlords to take basic, non-costly measures such as installing building and room locks and ensuring that they function properly.