Landlord Liability for Criminal Activity Lawyers

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Are Landlords Liable for Criminal Attacks on Tenants?

In most cases, landlords will not be held liable for attacks by third parties on tenants unless the attack was foreseeable by the landlord, or there was a duty to protect the tenant.  An example of such a duty would be a situation where the tenant was not allowed to change or add locks to their door, or where a landlord knew of one tenants repeated acts of violence against another tenant.  A landlord might be held liable for leasing to a known dangerous person or for failing to report criminal activity by a tenant.

Also, landlords can be liable if they fail to properly maintain the building or fail to meet local and state building codes, since many of these codes exist for safety reasons.

Some states find liability if a landlord increases the risk of an attack through some action or inaction.  An example would be leaving entry doors unlocked or refusing a tenants request for a change of locks.

What Can Landlords Do to Prevent Liability?

To avoid liability, landlords should do their best to reduce the liklihood of criminal attacks through reasonable measures.  This can include:

Are Landlords Liable for Attacks by Tenants' Dogs?

Liability for an attack by a tenants dog will only occur based on some act of negligence by the landlord, such as allowing another tenant's dog into someone's apartment or allowing a tenant to keep a dog known to be vicious. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

The laws of landlord liability can be complex and differ from state to state.  An experienced real estate attorney can help you understand the law and determine your duties as a landlord or your rights as a tenant.  An attorney can also represent you in court.

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Last Modified: 07-30-2009 03:47 PM PDT

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