If you live in a rental unit, whether it is an apartment or home, you and your landlord probably have numerous agreements, documented or spoken, with each other. Many tenants reasonably expect that if something is broken in a rental unit, the landlord will fix it in a timely manner, and landlords probably assume that tenants will take reasonable care of the property.
What Georgia tenants may not realize is that landlords and property owners also have a certain duty to prevent or discourage criminal activity on their properties. It is not unreasonable to expect a landlord or owner to take certain action with safety of tenants in mind, avoiding a case of negligent security. However, there are also many things that a tenant can do to compel a landlord or owner to comply.
What can a tenant do?
If you’re a renter who wants to protect yourself, get familiar with local and state laws regarding rental regulations. Certain local areas may require specific security measures on a rental unit to prevent crime, like a deadbolt lock on the door. You can check your local library to find out the regulations in your jurisdiction. Keep in mind that a court may still side with you on security matters unspecified in local ordinances, especially if your landlord knew of a potential security threat.
However, your landlord will only be held to a certain standard that says he or she should have taken reasonable precautions. Expecting your landlord to completely redesign a building for safety is probably not reasonable, but expecting him or her to implement inexpensive security measures, such as improving the lighting around the building, probably is. If your area has a history of criminal activity and your landlord fails to address it properly, he or she could be liable.
Fixing problems before a crime occurs
You have every right to notify your landlord about a security problem if you discover one. If the landlord is already aware of the issue, he or she should fix it in a timely manner, especially if the landlord says he or she will do so. You may even want to fix the problem yourself and request reimbursement, but be sure you understand local ordinances as well as the provisions of your rental agreement and give your landlord the opportunity to remedy the situation before you go this route.
If the unthinkable happens and you become a victim of a crime that your landlord had at least partial responsibility to prevent, you may want to consider your legal options. Negligent security is a serious issue that you have every right to address through the court system. Dismissing your safety, as well as that of your loved ones, should never happen.