Under Texas Law an apartment complex can be held liable for crimes that occur on their property, but only under very specific circumstances. It works like this:
Your home is your castle, and you should be able to feel safe in your castle. However, this is not always the case. Crimes often occur in apartment complexes. Texas is growing rapidly, more people are needing a place to live, which means there is an increase in crimes.
Because of the growing population, landlords are beginning to rent apartments frequently and not checking out a tenant's background. This can cause several problems because now you are not sure if you live next to a criminal. If you or your loved one has been a victim of an intentional tort such as a battery, assault, or another crime while living in an apartment complex, then you might have a potential claim against your apartment complex.
The general rule states that a landlord or owner of an apartment complex does not have a duty to protect their tenants against crimes or intentional torts that occur on their property. Nonetheless, there are special exceptions that can hold a landlord or owner liable.
The exception to the general rule is the foreseeability doctrine. Foreseeability is the basis for a premises liability claim. A landlord or owner of an apartment complex has a duty to keep the property reasonably safe from foreseeable harm. This means that if a tenant was assaulted or injured in some way and if the incident was expected to happen, then the landlord could be held liable. A crime can be someone breaking into your apartment or your car in the parking lot or someone assaulting you while taking a walk around the complex for exercise.
To determine foreseeability against the landlord, you can show that before the crime occurred in the apartment complex, that other incidents of crime occurred within a short period of time. This is called the prior crime rule. The prior crime does not have to be similar to your crime, there just has to be a pattern of crimes that occurred. To prove this, you can pull a crime history report from the police station.
Foreseeability can be challenging to prove without the expertise of an experienced attorney. You should consult an attorney to discuss your rights.
Lack in Security
You could also show that the landlord of the apartment complex neglected security procedures or security measures to keep the property safe. You must be able to show that the landlord lacked security and the crime that was committed due to the lack of security. For instance, the security cameras outside the complex were not connected, there was not a security guard on the premises during the crimes, the security gate of the apartment complex does not work properly, or there is no lighting in the darker areas.
A landlord may also be held liable for criminal acts that was committed by their employees as well. You can bring a lawsuit claiming that the landlord negligently hired the employee without thoroughly investigating the employees background. A landlord has a legal duty to do a background check on all employees that they hire.
Grossman Law Offices has litigated hundreds of cases and our attorneys have 25 years experience and are dedicated to helping you. Contact our law office for a free consultation at (855) 326-0000.