Generally, the law requires a person to protect another person from crime if a "special relationship" exists between them. In some states, a residential lease creates a special relationship between a landlord and tenant. If you rent a home in one of these areas, you have the right to expect that your landlord will keep you safe from criminals and their activities.
Your Landlord Should Know the Neighborhood
Even in states where a lease does not create a special relationship, your landlord is expected to have a good understanding of the crime statistics in the neighborhood where your rental property is located.
If the location can reasonably be considered dangerous, your landlord should tell you so before you sign the lease. If even one crime has been committed in your neighborhood in the past, your landlord is usually responsible for stepping up security measures.
Your Landlord Should Give You Reasonable Protection
Many states and municipalities include security measures in their building codes for rental dwellings. Legally, your landlord must meet these minimal requirements, even if a crime has never before occurred in your neighborhood. They usually include things like working locks and outdoor lighting.
Your dwelling should be equipped with these things when you move in. As time goes by, your landlord is responsible for keeping them in good working order. In some less-strict states, your landlord may be liable for your injuries only if security measures were promised in your lease, the landlord failed to keep them working properly, and you were the victim of a crime.
Your Landlord Is Responsible for Employees
Your landlord is usually responsible for protecting you against the landlord's employees as well. For example, landlords should screen property managers for criminal records before they are hired and exposed to tenants. The same standards may apply if your landlord contracts for services, such as lawn care or a plumber. Your landlord should carefully screen any person sent into your home.
Landlords Have Rights, Too
Residential tenants may not use a landlord's property to commit crimes. In most states, your landlord has the right to evict you for criminal activity, even if you're not actually convicted of the crime. Exceptions sometimes exist if someone else commits a crime in your home, but you were unaware of it.
A Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding tenants' rights to a safe residence is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a landlord/tenant lawyer.