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Is a property owner responsible for crimes on the property?

You probably never expected to be the victim of a robbery or assault while at a bank or near your apartment or a hotel where you were staying. Even if the police arrest and charge the person who committed the crime against you, you might wonder if the owner of the property where the crime occurred bears any responsibility for not stopping the crime in the first place.

Whether a property owner was negligent in preventing someone from committing a crime on the property is not always an easy question to answer. It depends on several factors that dictate how much responsibility a property owner has to deter and stop criminal activity.

The type of property involved

FindLaw explains that some property owners have a greater responsibility to protect people depending on the property. Generally, higher-risk properties are places where people reside, such as apartment buildings and hotels, or locations where many people shop and do business, like shopping malls and convenience stores. Banks and colleges are other examples.

Places such as these tend to fall under greater legal scrutiny. A bank or a hotel that does not have security guards in place could be liable for not providing adequate security in the event of a robbery or an assault.

The local crime rate

Whether a hotel or a store resides in a community with a high crime rate might also be important. A property owner who knows the area has a greater number of assaults or robberies should take greater measures to protect people on the property from such crimes. This may include hiring more security guards or installing property fences, cameras and security alarms.

A heightened crime rate may also require landlords to be more vigilant about the people they rent to. In the event a landlord discovers a tenant is engaging in illegal activity, the landlord may become responsible for the tenant’s crimes against other tenants if the landlord does not remove the tenant from the property.

Be aware of signs of negligence

Hopefully, you will never have to deal with the aftermath of a criminal act against you. In the event it does happen, pay attention to nearby signs of negligence like a lack of security cameras or guards, or holes in a security fence that might permit a criminal to enter the grounds. You may have recourse to seek damages from the property owner for your suffering.


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