If a resident complains about lack of security and the landlord doesn’t do anything and someone breaks in, can the resident sue them?

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If a resident complains about lack of security and the landlord doesn’t do anything and someone breaks in, can the resident sue them?

Someone tried to break into apartment twice. Complained multiple times to landlord and they said they would take care of it. Nothing has been done. If someone is successful at breaking in, would the tenant be able to sue them?

Asked on September 29, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the specific situations and what the security is. A landlord is only obligated to do what is reasonable, which is often defined as what the average reasonable landlord in a similar area would do in a similar situation. So, for example, say that you are in a non-doorman building, and say that your building has fairly secure doors and locks--the same level of security as typical landlords would provide. As long as the landlord is doing what is reasonable, he has discharged his reponsibility--he does not need to put in more security than the average reasonable landlord would.

On the other hand, if the security is deficient, especially after  notice, the landlord might be liable, so if, for example, the building's front door  doesn't lock, but it should; or similar buildings have security lights; or the apartment locks are flimsy; etc., then the landlord may be liable. It depends on circumstances.


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