Landlord Responsibility for Tenant Safety in Georgia
A landlord’s responsibility for tenant safety can be a major area of contention in criminal attack, premises liability cases. Learn more here.
Landlord Responsibility for Tenant Safety
If you are a tenant leasing a home or an apartment, it’s easy to think of your landlord as no more than the person or company who collects your monthly rent and provides you with a key to your apartment. Georgia law, however, acknowledges that there is more to the landlord-tenant relationship than simply providing a place to live. At the Crime Victim Law Group of Deitch & Rogers, LLC, we specialize in one of the most vital responsibilities a landlord has toward their tenants: safety.
If you’ve been injured as a result of a crime on a rental property, you may be eligible for compensation. However, in order to determine whether you have a viable premises liability claim, it’s important to understand just how far a landlord’s responsibility for tenant safety goes. Here’s what you need to know.
Landlord Responsibilities in Deterring Crime
When entering into a rental contract, tenants have a basic right to expect that the landlord will take reasonable steps to keep the rented premises safe. In order to respect this right, landlords must satisfy all state and local laws regulating the safety of their rental properties.
In the state of Georgia, it is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure that all doors and windows have appropriately designed and functioning locks. Additionally, common areas, such as parking lots, should have proper lighting to deter crime, and fencing may also be needed around the premises to discourage unwanted guests. These security measures must be in proper working condition at all times, and quick repairs are essential if they are broken or defective.
These are the basic precautions that all rental property owners should follow. Unfortunately, many landlords do not take these precautions, much less additional measures such as video surveillance in common areas or hiring security personnel. However, when a landlord has reason to anticipate that a criminal offense might occur on the premises and potentially harm the occupants, the landlord may need to implement these and other measures.
Another important component of a tenant’s right to safety is knowing that other tenants on the property do not have a history of violent or dangerous crime. In order to determine whether a potential tenant may present a safety risk to other tenants, landlords are authorized to run criminal background checks on every prospective tenant. Beyond that, a landlord should keep tenants informed of any violent or dangerous crimes occurring on the property, such as assaults or drug dealing. This will ensure tenants know to be on the lookout and the necessary precautions.
If you believe your landlord allowed or ignored illegal activity on their property, leading to serious violent injury toward yourself or a loved one, please contact our attorneys immediately.
How to Report Your Landlord for Negligence
If you become aware of security issues on the property, you should quickly inform your landlord by providing them written notice. Make sure the notice adheres to the requirements in your lease agreement. You will want to keep a copy of the notice in case you need to later prove that the landlord was aware of the issue.
Once your landlord is aware of a security issue, it is their responsibility to address the security issue within a reasonable amount of time. In this context, “reasonable” is determined by the seriousness of the issue.
Suing a Landlord for Negligence
When a landlord fails to follow through on their legal obligation to keep their property safe, they may be liable for any damages an occupant or their guest sustains as result. This is done by filing a premises liability lawsuit.
For What Reasons Can You Sue Your Landlord?
Under Georgia law, a landlord’s responsibilities include protecting their tenants from any reasonably foreseeable criminal conduct. In the area of premises liability law, this means that if you are a victim of a criminal offense on a rental property and there is evidence that your landlord could have anticipated and prevented the crime and that they negligently failed to do so, you might have a claim against them for any damages arising from your injuries.
It’s important to keep in mind that the injured party has the legal burden of proving the landlord’s negligence in premises liability cases. This often means that the victim must provide evidence that the landlord had knowledge of prior incidents of similar criminal activity taking place on the property.
Coming up with this type of evidence can be difficult, even if you know it to be true. As your Atlanta crime victim lawyers, Deitch & Rogers have the skills, resources, and background to investigate and present this evidence to the court to ensure that you obtain full compensation under the law.
Is My Landlord Responsible for Other Injuries?
In addition to crime-related injuries, landlords can be held accountable for other injuries that occurred to tenants as a result of the landlord’s negligence. The legal basis of these cases is similar to those of crime-related liability cases, but these cases put a greater emphasis on immediate physical safety violations rather than negligent security issues.
Just as landlords have a responsibility to keep their premises safe from crime, they also have a duty to properly maintain the property to prevent other harms. Common types of incidents in unsafe apartments include slips, trips, & falls, elevator accidents, swimming pool accidents, and ceiling collapses. If a tenant is injured in one of these incidents and there is clear evidence that the landlord was aware of the issue that led to the incident and failed to repair it, the landlord can likely be held liable for the tenant’s injuries.
While both crime-related attacks and non-crime related incidents may fall under the broad umbrella of premises liability, each requires a narrow specialization in that area in order for it to be properly litigated.
Can I Sue My Landlord for Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is often a major component of crime-related premises liability lawsuits. This category of damages is designed to compensate the victim for any mental or physical distress caused by the incident. Since bodily injury and psychological damage are both common outcomes of violent crimes such as rape and sexual assault, the financial compensation for these damages can be substantial.
Other damages a tenant can sue for in these cases include medical bills, lost earnings, and sometimes even personal property damage. By conducting a thorough investigation into the incident and your injuries, your lawyer can help prove to the court that your losses, both tangible and intangible, resulted from the attack and the landlord’s failure to implement and maintain proper security measures.
How to Sue My Landlord for Unsafe Living Conditions
In a tenant-landlord relationship, both occupants and property owners have rights and duties. Among the greatest, and most essential, rights occupants have is to be safe and secure while on the premises.
To uphold these rights, the landlord has particular obligations they must fulfill in order to keep the premises safe. When they fail to do so, they can be held accountable for any injuries an occupant sustains due to the property owner’s negligence.
As Atlanta’s top negligent security law firm, Deitch & Rogers is dedicated to helping crime victims hold negligent property owners accountable. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a crime on a rental property, please contact us today to learn more about your options.
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I have seen Gilbert Deitch in every capacity as a lawyer. I have opposed him in premises liability cases, used him as a consultant and seen his work as a trial lawyer
Gino Brogdon, Former Judge
Fulton County Superior Court