What about the guy next door?

August 14, 2007
Many of the negligent security cases castigate the property owner for failure to protect residents from criminals who are able to enter the premises. They ask the courts to demand that landlords provide security guards, locked gates, and special lighting. But none of these precautions against outsiders can prevent tenant-on-tenant crime.
     If there is a duty on the part of the landlord to protect the tenant against criminal acts perpetrated by a fellow tenant, landlords of both residential and commercial properties may then be found to have a duty to investigate their tenants, both prospectively and continuously during the tenancy, to determine the tenant's propensity for criminal behavior. The landlord would have to decide whether to screen prospective tenants for criminal propensity, refuse to rent to such individuals, or evict tenants who are potentially dangerous to other tenants. If the landlord does take action to protect other tenants, the landlord may face claims from the dangerous tenant who has been subjected to the landlord's protective actions.