Landlord Responsibilities to Tenants
Landlords owe many responsibilities to their tenants. One duty, which deserves more attention, is to provide reasonably safe premises for their residents and their guests. In Florida, this duty includes a duty to provide suitable security against criminal activity. If you were attacked and injured in your residence, in the parking lot of your residential complex, or on the premises of a business, you might have a legal claim.
Here is what we will look for to determine whether you can pursue a case:
- Has Prior Criminal Conduct Occurred?
The Law does not require that Landlords guarantee 100% safety. Just because someone is injured on the premises of a residential complex, does not mean that they are entitled to damages. Instead, their actions must be reasonable considering foreseeable crime in the area. More specifically, Florida courts have stated that landlords owe a duty to protect renters from “reasonably foreseeable criminal conduct.” For example, there might be a string of robberies on the premises. This history would put the landlord on notice that they need security to protect against crime. If the landlord has a broken front gate and they fail to repair the gate after the string of robberies, they could be liable for injuries occurring due to crime on the premises. When determining what is foreseeable, it is important to look at the neighborhood as a whole. If there are robberies occurring at the apartment complex next door, then it is reasonably foreseeable that criminal activity could spill over into your apartment complex. Foreseeability is a question of fact for a jury!
- Is the Security Reasonable?
Florida law requires reasonable actions to guard against criminal activity. This is a case-by-case analysis. Local and state ordinances require certain safety features, such as deadbolt locks on doors, peepholes, window locks and fences. If a landlord violates these administrative laws, then they may have provided negligent security. Every property is different. Some landlords are required to amplify their security measures. For example, security guard might be needed and the frequency of those security guards may change. Other actions might include lighting on the property or removing undergrowth where a criminal could hide.
- Reporting Crime
If a crime occurs, it must be reported to both the police and landlord if you intend to pursue a claim. If you are worried about the repercussions of reporting the crime there are systems in place through the police that can ease your worries. Reporting the crime helps put landlords on notice that they need to review their security procedures. If necessary, a landlord should boost the security in the building. 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. It is your burden to prove both negligent security and foreseeability.
Quattrochi, Torres and Taormina can help you to obtain compensation when negligent security causes or contributed to injuries. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.