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Does My Virginia Landlord Have a Duty to Provide Security?

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Does My Virginia Landlord Have a Duty to Provide Security?

Does My Virginia Landlord Have a Duty to Provide Security?

By Jan Hoen

You know that both parties to a residential lease have legal obligations, but you may not realize how far the duties extend for your Virginia landlord. Even beyond making repairs and maintaining common areas, lessors have a responsibility to ensure the premises is safe from threats posed by other individuals. When you realize that criminal activity is a common occurrence, the duty to provide adequate security takes on new meaning: Virginia crime statistics from SafeWise, an online resource for reviewing home security systems, indicate that one in four people experienced a violent or property crime in the last 12 months. 

A landlord’s breach of duty to provide proper security could give rise to a claim under premises liability laws, for which you could be entitled to recover monetary damages as an injured victim. Your Virginia negligent security lawyer can tell you more about your legal options, but an overview may be useful.

Liability in Negligent Security Claims

Premises liability laws are based upon the legal concept of negligence, so there are certain elements you must prove to obtain compensation in an inadequate security claim. You must show that your landlord failed to exercise reasonable care in safeguarding the property, and this breach was the direct cause of your injuries. In a successful claim, you may be able to recover for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and many other losses.

The key in many of these claims centers on what is considered “reasonable,” since a property owner cannot be expected to protect against threats that are not foreseeable by the average person. A known risk or pattern of criminal activity triggers the duty to provide adequate security, at which point a landlord must implement an appropriate counter strategy. Depending upon the situation, examples of proper security may include:

  • Installing security cameras at entries and exits;
  • Ensuring exterior doors auto-lock behind a tenant or guest;
  • Implementing a key-card entry system;
  • Making sure there is adequate lighting in halls, stairways, parking lots, and other common areas;
  • Hiring a security guard; and,
  • Many others.

Proof in a Negligent Security Case

Though foreseeability is a critical aspect of an inadequate security case, you can expect that your landlord will deny having knowledge of any threat of criminal activity. Fortunately, there are resources that can provide proof that a landlord knew or should have known about the risks, such as: 

  • Previous reports regarding assaults, other violent crime, and property-related offenses;
  • Calls to 911 and non-emergency numbers managed by law enforcement; and,
  • Arrests for criminal activity in the vicinity of the building.

Discuss Your Rights with a Virginia Premises Liability Attorney

This summary may be helpful regarding the basics behind negligent security claims, but there are many details and legal concepts that complicate these premises liability cases. If you would like additional information, please call Hampton Injury Law PLC to schedule a case evaluation today. A Virginia inadequate security lawyer can explain your remedies and get started on a strategy to enforce your rights.

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