- September 20, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Negligent Security
Many people consider it a fact of life that only the rich can afford safety. Those who don’t own their own homes or pay luxury rates for their rentals end up living in areas with higher rates of violent crime, often in buildings lacking basic security measures. When a resident falls victim to a crime, there’s often an attitude of “you get what you pay for,” and an assumption that the landlord couldn’t possibly do anything about the local crime rates if they wanted to.
As prevalent as this idea is, it’s not consistent with the law. Landlords have a duty to take all reasonable measures to protect tenants and guests from foreseeable dangers. When a property or the surrounding area is known to have a violent crime problem, violent crime becomes a foreseeable danger that the landlord must address.
Studies also show that landlords have great power over local crime rates. Even simple upgrades like working gates and lighting can make a property unwelcoming to crime, and may even help to reduce local crime beyond the borders of the property. In more extreme situations, landlords may also need to invest in more security staff, or identify those residents who pose a credible threat to their neighbors.
Roswell Residents Are Concerned for Their Safety Following a Deadly Shooting
Last month, 27-year-old Victor Lazo was shot and killed in the parking lot of the Manchester at Mansell Apartment Complex, where he lived. Lazo’s girlfriend says that two men were hitting on her, and that Lazo and a friend were trying to defend her. She describes the interaction as “ not really even an argument ” until it abruptly escalated, and one or both of the unknown men opened fire.
Both of the suspects in the shooting were later identified as fellow residents of the Manchester, one of whom turned himself in to police custody.
Although the tone of the response to Lazo’s death is generally one of shock, there may have been warning signs that would have allowed a responsible landlord to protect him. For example, if the suspects ever mishandled their weapons in the past, discharging them or aiming them at neighbors, that would have been grounds for eviction. If there were other shootings at apartment complexes in the area, that would be good reason for full-time security guard presence.
Some neighbors have said that the incident makes them worry about security and even consider moving, and this is not the first time local residents have expressed concern for their safety. Multiple reviews for the complex from anonymous residents and family members mention the gates being broken or left open. Though repairing a gate wouldn’t have prevented violence between residents, this complaint may be indicative of the landlord’s general level of attention to security.
Many Residents Don’t Realize They Can Sue Their Landlords for Negligent Security
The murder of Victor Lazo is just one example of a violent crime that appears to be purely random or personal, but could actually be partially due to negligent property management.
When tragedies like this occur, survivors are often so absorbed with processing their grief, handling practical concerns, or helping convict the direct perpetrator, that they don’t even consider their landlord’s culpability. In fact, landlords rely on this distraction.
The truth is, holding landlords responsible for failing to provide reasonable security is one of the most effective things a survivor can do to combat violent crime, as well as obtain fair compensation for the harm already done.
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one to a violent crime in your apartment building due to negligent security, reach out to The Stoddard Firm today.