September 20, 2019

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Can My Landlord be Held Liable for Crime on the Property?

Whether you have been injured in a criminal assault in your own apartment or one of your customers has been attacked in the parking lot of your retail establishment, you may be wondering who can be held financially liable for the injuries and whether your landlord bears any responsibility as the property owner. The answer isn’t simple.

Technically speaking, the criminal who caused the injuries can be held responsible, but it’s usually unlikely that they will be able to pay, even if they are identified and located. Under the right circumstances, your landlord can be held liable for providing inadequate security. It all depends on whether your landlord knew or should have known about the risks and what actions they took or failed to take as a result.

Was it Your Problem or the Landlord’s?

Negligent security cases hinge on foreseeability. Did your landlord know of the risk, or should they have known? If so, did they take the appropriate action? Did they warn you? Did they provide the minimal security measures appropriate for the risk?

In Oregon, landlords must provide working locks on residential property and, of course, provide you with the working key. Beyond that, each situation is unique, but there are a couple of basics to keep in mind:

  • Landlords are responsible for providing adequate security in common areas – the areas you don’t control
  • You are generally responsible for security within the space you control

So, what does that mean? If you had a guest in your apartment and they assault you, that is on you. But if you were attacked in a poorly lit hallway by your neighbor’s guest or some unknown person who entered the property, or possibly even by your guest who was lying in wait without your knowledge, your landlord may be held liable.

Negligent security is a theory of premises liability law. The Law Office of J. Clay McCaslin can help you sort through the complex issue of landlord responsibility in negligent security cases so that you can recover the compensation you deserve.

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