New York City Negligent Building Security Law Firm


Apartments and other forms of centralized living facilities (condominiums, coops, duplexes, etc.) provide many benefits over single family housing. Access to communal activities, such as swimming pools, barbeques, and tennis courts become affordable for families on significantly lower budgets. Apartments also might offer additional benefits such as free utilities, access to parking in busy areas, and other amenities.

One of the primary advantages to living in rented space, including these types of centralized living facilities, is that the cost and requirement of upkeep and security fall to the owner. State and Federal laws require that landlords perform reasonable maintenance, including requirements to keep the premises safe and secure.

These requirements for safety and security are particularly important in residential buildings because the lessee is dependent upon the lessor to ensure that criminal elements are kept under control since the lessee has limited control of the environment. Failure to provide proper security is a clear sign of negligence on the part of the landlord.

Reasonable Assumptions of Security

Though different states have different requirements regarding landlord responsibilities to the tenants, there is a general consensus regarding landlord liability for tenant safety. These responsibilities fall under three main requirements: proper screening of prospective tenants, proper maintenance of the premises, and providing a situationally appropriate level of security.

Screening of prospective tenants involves determining whether or not a new tenant is likely to pose a risk to existing tenants. The proper protocol for determining this might include:

  • Verification of identity through the provision of a requirement for a state-issued photo ID and valid Social Security number for all applicants
  • Requiring references from past landlords
  • A background check, including criminal history, for all potential tenants
  • A credit and employment check to determine job stability for the applicant

Proper maintenance of the premises is also extremely important to providing a safe environment for tenants. Proper maintenance procedures would include changing the locks each time a unit changes tenants, ensuring the stability of walkways and staircases, and maintaining communal areas, including repairing vandalism. Regular inspections of lighting systems to ensure the premises are suitably lit is a huge deterrent to crime. Failing to repair damaged property increases the likelihood of further crimes being committed on the premises.

Providing a situationally appropriate level of security is extremely important for keeping the premises safe. There is a broad spectrum of security measures that can be taken. At the very least, appropriate signage (including No Trespassing and No Soliciting signs) should be highly visible, but dependent upon the area cameras, a security guard, and even a locked front door or gate that can only be opened by tenants are reasonable expectations on the part of those who live in the community. Factors that should influence the level of security include how common crime is in the neighborhood, whether or not there is a history of crime in the complex, and community concerns regarding privacy and access.

Premises Security Accident and Injury Prevention

Though the vast majority of appropriate security measures are dependent upon the landlord, there are steps a tenant can take to lessen the likelihood of criminal activity that results in accident or injury. Some of these steps can be taken in regards to the individual’s unit, and others can only be enacted at the community level.

At the individual level, a tenant can undertake a security walkthrough to determine the safety of their apartment. Important items to consider include the functioning of the door lock (particularly whether or not it can be rattled open or compromised easily in some other way), the window locks, the blinds, and obtaining renter’s insurance to cover loss in case of theft or fire.

At a community level, the renter should report any vandalism, damaged or malfunctioning locks, or other visible safety concerns. These reports should be submitted in writing to increase the likelihood management will feel compelled to act on them. If appropriate, forming a committee of residents to pressure management to provide proper security can have a powerful positive effect.

If you have opted for apartment living, you know the benefits and pitfalls that go along with it. Some of these tradeoffs you have made willingly, such as close proximity of neighbors and the potential for diminished privacy. But others, such as limited control over the security of the premises, are only acceptable provided the landlord fulfills their obligations to provide a safe and secure environment for you and your family.

If you or a loved one has been injured, died, or suffered greatly due to negligent security on the part of a landlord, knowing the proper first step to determine liability can be extremely difficult. New York City law firm Finz & Finz, P.C., has years of experience evaluating cases just like yours. Contact our New York City premises liability lawyer, now, toll free at (855) TOP FIRM, or fill out the Free Negligent Building Security Case Evaluation Form on the website to help you determine how to proceed with your case.