A Landlord’s Legal Duty to Provide Adequate Security
Landlords owe many responsibilities to their tenants. One little-known duty is to provide reasonably safe premises. Under Florida law, this duty includes a duty to provide adequate security against criminal activity.
If you were attacked in your apartment or on the premises, you might have a legal claim. Meet with a Florida personal injury attorney to review the circumstances of your case.
Has Prior Criminal Conduct Occurred?
Landlords cannot guarantee that their tenants are 100% safe—and the law does not require that. Instead, their actions must be reasonable in light of the history of crime in the area. In particular, Florida courts have stated that landlords owe a duty to protect renters from “reasonably foreseeable criminal conduct.”
For example, there might be a history of robberies in an apartment complex. This history certainly puts the landlord on notice that they need security to protect against this violent crime. By contrast, there might be no history of violent crime in a residential area, in which case it is reasonable for a landlord to provide lesser protections.
When deciding what is foreseeable, it is important to look at the neighborhood, not simply the residential complex. If there is regular drug activity happening two streets over, then it is reasonable to assume that criminal activity could spill over into your apartment complex. Ultimately, whether crime was foreseeable is a question for a jury, if the case goes to trial.
Is the Security Reasonable?
Florida premises liability law requires reasonable measures to protect against criminal activity. This is a fact-specific analysis. What is reasonable for an apartment building in a high-crime area might not be required in a low-crime neighborhood.
Local and state ordinances require certain safety features, such as deadbolt locks on doors, peepholes, and fences. Windows should also have locks so that a person cannot illegally enter. If a landlord violates these ordinances, then they almost certainly have provided negligent security and can be sued.
However, landlords sometimes need to take additional security measures. For example, they might need to hire security guards to patrol the property/building, especially if there is ongoing criminal activity. Other actions might include installing more lighting on the property or removing bushes where a criminal could hide.
It is vital that tenants promptly report suspected criminal activity to both their landlord and the police. This helps put landlords on notice that they need to review their security protocols. If necessary, a landlord should bolster the security in the building.
If you were victimized by a crime, call the police. Give as much detail about the suspect as possible. Remember to fully document if you believe that inadequate security played a role. For example, a criminal could have broken through a faulty window to access your unit, so photograph the window so there is proof of its original state.
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Halpern Santos & Pinkert, P.A. can assist obtaining compensation when negligent security contributes to a violent assault. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.