A landlord owes a non-delegable duty to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition. That duty applies to both residential and commercial properties.
Landlord’s Must Take Adequate Security Measures
Negligent security cases start and end with the concept of foreseeability. The more foreseeable the crime, the greater the responsibility of the landlord to implement security measures. Negligent Security cases involving commercial establishments typically revolve around the landlords failure to maintain the common areas and failure to take adequate security measures. For example, if a property is located in a high-crime area a landlord should make sure that the property is well lit, and should consider providing security guards. In addition a landlord should properly screen all tenants and complete thorough background investigations.
The same requirements are applicable to residential landlords. To that end, a property manager recently settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $1.5 million for failing to perform an adequate background investigation on a tenant. In that case David Lawrence Nelson, 31, a former Marine who moved to South Florida from the Pacific Northwest two years earlier, died of multiple gunshot wounds in the parking lot of the Harbor Town Apartment Homes in Plantation. Nelson was shot by Jaime Vogel, a fellow tenant at the same apartment complex.
Nelson’s wife, Marla, sued the apartment complex’s management company for negligence, arguing that they should have known Vogel was a risk and never should have rented an apartment to his family. The lawsuit was filed on the premise that a person who rents a property from a landlord or manager expects proper background checks to be conducted on other renters. The facts in this case were even more egregious because Greystar had run a background check that revealed Vogel had previously lived in another Plantation property managed by the same company, and that he had been evicted for causing disturbances and making death threats against other tenants. Yet, they rented another apartment to him. They wisely settled the wrongful death negligent security case for $1.5 million.
- Overview of Negligent Security Cases
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