As a New York tenant, you are entitled to tenant’s rights regarding the safety and security of your dwelling. It is up to your landlord to make sure you’re safe.
You’re protected from dangerous conditions, such as improperly maintained structures, unsafe electrical wiring, falling trees and branches, and bugs and mice. And you’re also protected from violent crimes.
In some cases, your landlord may be held responsible if you’ve been the victim of a violent crime such as assault or rape in your own home. If an intruder’s access to your building was facilitated by faulty security measures, then the landlord could be responsible.
Examples of Faulty Security Measures
You may wonder what falls under your landlord’s jurisdiction and what is your responsibility. The general security of your building should be maintained by your landlord. Yes, if you leave your apartment door unlocked, and somebody robs you – this will weaken any liability case. But you are not obligated to sustain building maintenance or fix residential issues that could lead to breaches. Common security flaws include:
- Broken windows – These can include windows to your apartment or to the apartment building where you reside.
- Broken locks – This includes the locks on the gates and doors to the premises as well as the locks on your apartment’s doors and windows.
- Defective cameras – If your landlord assured your safety through the use of security cameras, but it’s later revealed that they don’t work, this is grounds for legal action.
- Dimly lit public areas – Public spaces such as hallways and parking facilities should always be properly lit so tenants are aware of potential threats.
- Faulty alarm systems – If the alarm systems in your building are dysfunctional or are programmed incorrectly, they may not be able to protect you from intruders. This is a blatant breach of the protection agreement between you and your landlord.
If you landlord fails to provide proper security measures, it can result in crimes that may harm your or other residents of the building. You’ll want to gather information from any witnesses int the building. This may involve conferring with neighbors who witnessed the crime and/or the negligence that led to it.
The following crimes could provide grounds for a tenant’s rights claim:
- Sexual assault
Premises Liability as a Result of Negligent Security
Property owners and managers are required by law to keep their premises reasonably safe from foreseeable criminal acts, and that is the key word when trying to win negligent security cases — foreseeable.
If you have been the victim of a violent crime, you may be able to prove negligent security. You’ll need to show that the area is host to a history of violence and continues to sustain violent crimes.
Common methods of proving violent history include:
- Providing police reports from violent crimes enacted at the location.
- Providing statements from people who witnessed violent crimes at the location.
- Showing proof of previous lawsuits filed as a result of criminal activity at the location.
There are many standards associated with laws protecting tenants from landlord oversight, and there are often third-party entities involved like security agencies and management companies. The liability of the various entities depends on several factors, so it’s important for victims of negligent security to make sure they seek help from a legal professional experienced in premises liability.