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What Are My Landlord's Duties to Prevent Crime?

As a tenant, you may be wondering if your landlord has duties to prevent crime at your home, apartment complex, or multi-family dwelling. The short answer is “yes.”

Landlords must take “reasonable measures” to protect tenants from criminal acts, including assault, battery, property damage, murder, rape and sexual assault, and property damage, to name just a few.

If a landlord does not take “reasonable measures” to protect a tenant from crime, and knows about the probability of a criminal activity at their property, a Santa Monica tenant attorney may be able to work with the tenant to hold the landlord liable for a tenant’s injuries and damages. Let’s take a deeper look at this subject now in this blog from Schwimer Weinstein. 

What Steps Does A Landlord Have To Take To Prevent Crime?

There are a lot of different things landlords must do to prevent and address crime under California law, including, but not limited to:

  • Securing all common areas of rental property – A landlord must use “locking mechanisms that comply with applicable fire and safety codes” to control entry to all common areas of a dwelling including lobbies, courtyards, stairwells, hallways, shared backyards, shared laundry rooms, and other such areas. 

  • Providing deadbolts and window locks – All tenancies beginning after July 1, 1998 require landlords to install deadbolt locks on all swinging entry doors, and installing locking devices on all openable windows.

  • Liability for criminal acts by a tenant’s guest – In some cases, landlords can be held responsible for troublesome, unauthorized guests who are involved in criminal activity.

  • Preventing drug activity on the property – While landlords can’t refuse to rent to a tenant due to a history of drug use, they have the duty to handle and evict disruptive or troublesome tenants who violate the lease terms or local, state, or federal law related to drug use, manufacturing, or sales.

  • Protecting tenants with police reports or restraining orders against another person – If a vulnerable tenant gets a restraining order or a copy of a police report stating they were the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking, the landlord must change the locks on the tenant’s doors within 24 hours. The tenant may also elect to do so themselves, but must provide notice to their landlord and a key within 24 hours.

It’s important to note that landlords are NOT required to screen the criminal history of a tenant in California, though most landlords opt to do so. 

What Happens If A Tenant Is The Victim Of A Crime? 

This depends on the circumstances of the crime. If the landlord is found to have breached their duty to provide a safe environment and exercise reasonable care to prevent crime, they may be found liable, and the tenant may be able to recover damages from the landlord for property loss, injuries, medical bills and more.

Need A Santa Monica Tenant Attorney? Contact Schwimer Weinstein Today! 

If you have been a victim of a crime at your rental property and you believe your landlord was partially responsible, the team at Schwimer Weinstein is here for you. 

As experienced Santa Monica tenant attorneys, Micahel Schwimer and Zev Weinstein will help you explore your options for recovering the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation, and get the assistance you need in Santa Monica.

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