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Is your landlord taking steps to prevent criminal activity?

According to a Wall Street Journal article published earlier this year, at 64 percent, New York City is second only to Miami in the number of residents who rent vs. own. While articles about tenants' rights with regard to rent stabilization often make the headlines in the city, there are many other important issues that affect tenants’ safety, health and quality of life.

For anyone who rents an apartment or home, it's critical to understand your rights as a tenant, a landlord's responsibilities and steps one may choose to take in the event a landlord isn't fulfilling his or her responsibilities. For example, to some degree, a landlord is responsible for ensuring that a premise is safe. Issues related to safety include maintenance to reduce the likelihood of slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall injuries. Additionally, a landlord is expected to take steps to protect tenants from suffering criminal acts while on a premise.

While some criminal acts are random and difficult to foresee or prevent, a landlord should be aware of the neighborhood crime statistics as well as existing regulations related to a landlord's responsibilities with regard to crime prevention. For example, crime prevention steps that a landlord may take or be required to take include ensuring that both the front entrance and individual units are equipped with functioning and adequate locks. Additionally, the installation of security cameras and motion detection lights may deter criminal activity.

If a tenant or a tenant's visitor is a victim of a crime on the premise of a landlord's property, legal action may be warranted. An attorney who handles premise liability matters can assist in assessing the specifics of an individual's case to determine whether or not a landlord may be held liable.

Source: FindLaw.com, "FAQ -- Landlord Responsibilities: Criminal Activities," Sept. 18, 2015

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