Criminal Activities on Rental Property

Landlords have some legal responsibility to protect their tenants from criminal activities occurring on the property, especially if similar crimes have occurred in the past, and are likely to occur again.

Landlord must also protect the rest of the neighborhood from their tenants committing criminal activities such as illegal drug activity.  Rental property owners are constantly being sued by tenants injured as a result of criminal acts committed on the property.  There are some measures that landlords can take to protect themselves from lawsuits and ensure the safety of their tenants:

 

  • Make sure that all state and local security laws that apply to rental units are complied with such as installing deadbolt locks on doors, lighting in halls and exterior common areas of the building and window locks or security systems.
  • Work with local police, insurance companies and security companies to design a security system that gives protection to clients. 
  • Educate tenants about potential crime problems in the neighborhood, and describe what security measures are provided and their limitations.
  • Maintain the rental property and fix broken locks or broken windows and burned out lights. Get tenants to participate with suggestions as well.
  • Handle tenant complaints about dangerous situations, suspicious activities, or broken security items immediately.
  • If additional security measures require a rent increase then talk to your tenants and ask them how much more they would be willing to pay for additional security. 

Protecting Tenants from Other Tenants

Unless the lease provides otherwise, there is an implied warranty or obligation by the landlord that during the lease term, the tenant is entitled to “quiet enjoyment” of the property. Even if the tenant’s disruption is caused by a third party such as another tenant or a neighbor, it is the landlord’s duty to take action. If the landlord does not, then the tenant can terminate the lease.  The landlord may be required to compensate the tenant for moving.

Illegal Activity on the Property and Nearby

If there is any kind of illegal activity on the property, the landlord must take action immediately either by evicting the person committing the illegal activity and/or calling the police.  If the tenant advises the landlord that there is illegal activity nearby the landlord should take reasonable measures to try and report it to the proper person or authority to protect his tenants.  If the landlord does nothing, the tenant can terminate the lease.

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