Landlords must take reasonable measures for providing a safe premises for tenants and guests. Landlords may be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit for violent crimes that happen to tenants and criminal activity by a tenant or their guests against others.
California and other states generally hold landlords for responsible for criminal activities that take place at their rental properties by their tenants and any guests on the property. In addition to violence, these can include theft and vandalism against tenants and distribution of illegal drugs by a tenant or their guests.
Landlords cannot always prevent crimes against tenants. But they are expected to take reasonable safety measures to keep crimes from occurring.
These include making sure that doors and windows can properly close and lock and are equipped with devices such as deadbolts, providing adequate illumination around the buildings and keeping tenants informed about crime in the area.
Landlords should also have an effective screening process for potential tenants. By uncovering poor renting and financial behavior and habits, screening can help eliminate tenants with questionable backgrounds from renting in the first place. Leases should contain clear terms against illegal activity and the landlord’s remedies for addressing it.
Landlords must address tenants committing illegal activities and take measures in accordance with their lease and California law such as eviction. They should record reports of criminal activities from neighbors or suspicious activity such as high utility bills, cash only payments and other suspicious activities such as numerous vehicles pulling up to an apartment or home and staying for short periods.
A tenant or guest who suffers injuries from a crime or accident may be entitled to compensation from a negligent landlord or other property owner. An attorney can help them pursue their legal rights in a premises liability lawsuit.