If you rent an apartment, you should be able to venture to and from your apartment door without having to worry about a criminal assaulting you. In some cases, a crime may happen despite the best efforts of a landlord. However, if a landlord could foresee a crime occurring and did nothing, the victimized tenant may hold the landlord liable under the doctrine of negligent security.
In the event a tenant suffers assault or robbery while on a rental premises like an apartment complex, a court might hold the landlord responsible under certain circumstances. A judge will consider a number of factors to determine if the landlord was negligent.
The legal team for the injured tenant may point out that the landlord should have foreseen that a crime could occur. They may argue that incidents of crimes had already taken place on the rental property, or that similar crimes had occurred in the immediate area. In some cases, a criminal might have been a former tenant of the property and had given indications of possibly committing a crime.
A negligent security claim may fall apart if the crime occurs in a place outside of the control of the landlord. For instance, a landlord does not exercise control over sidewalks or streets that lie beyond the property. However, a court might hold a landlord liable if the crime took place in a common area of the property, such as a lobby.
Courts may hold landlords liable if they fail to take reasonable actions to secure their properties. Judges may draw the line at claims that a landlord should have conducted extensive renovations of the property to make it safer. If a judge believes the tenant wanted the landlord to take unreasonable actions to secure the premises, the judge may not accept the claim of negligent security.
However, not all security steps are high tech or expensive. Many actions do not require much time or expense to secure a property. Groundskeepers could cut high bushes where criminals could hide in. Landlords could have lights installed so that areas of property are not cast in darkness to conceal criminals or to endanger renters. Landlords could also fix old locks that a criminal could break.