property liability in high crime areas

Property Owners in High Crime Areas Are More Responsible for Security, Not Less

In a 2018 analysis that’s caused no shortage of controversy, Atlanta has been ranked among the nation’s 50 most unlivable cities. Of course, statistical rankings offer only the shallowest glimpse of what life is like in a given city. The metrics used for ranking, especially crime rates, can vary drastically from one neighborhood to another, or even from one business to the one next door, depending on property owner policies.

Another more fine-pointed study back in 2010 found that the specific areas of Atlanta where people were most likely to fall victim to crime were along Carter Street, Marietta Street, Richardson Street, and Humphries Street. More recently, residents have noted a crime spike in Buckhead, in spite of its safe reputation, made up especially of car break-ins and firearm thefts. A filtered examination of the Atlanta PD’s ever-updating crime map also reveals clusters of murders, assaults, and muggings along Campbellton Rd, and to the southwest in Greenbriar.

People tend to assume that just by existing in an area where the risk of violence is high, they will have less recourse if they are victimized. Legally, however, the reverse is true. This is because patterns of crime, as opposed to isolated incidents, are an indicator of property owners’ failure to cultivate a safe environment.

Liability Is Based on Patterns

A landlord or business owner is not responsible for the random criminal actions of third parties, but he or she is responsible for taking reasonable measures to protect tenants and guests from foreseeable dangers. Murders and muggings may not be foreseeable in quiet neighborhoods where crime is rare, but those same crimes become foreseeable when they’re occurring in the same parking lot where dozens of similar crimes have already taken place.

It might seem like a tall order for business owners in high crime areas to keep violence off their properties, but simple policy variations can have a huge impact on the crime rates of individual business locations. Often, the difference between a high crime and low crime location is simply how warmly the management welcomes criminal activities. Landlords whose properties become crime havens should consider themselves “on notice” for negligent security before a victim ever needs to press charges.

Most Corporate Landlords Expect Luxury-Level Profits, Just for Fulfilling Their Duty to Protect People

Low crime and high prices have become so closely associated with each other that efforts to reduce crime often make innocent lower-income people nervous. Unfortunately, these fears are not groundless. When landowners invest in reducing crime on a large scale, they usually expect to reap a significant return by attracting higher-income tenants or customers, and pricing out locals.

While this is common business practice, it’s not economically inevitable or supported by the law. Safety from crime is not a luxury, and it’s perfectly possible to stop enabling violent crime without raising prices out of reach. How much security a landlord is required to provide is determined by how much is needed, not by the income of those who need it.

If you’ve been victimized because of a property owner’s failure to meet that obligation, contact the Stoddard Firm right away for a free consultation.