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Landlord Liability for Crimes?

Boston is primarily a student town. So with the odd combination of naivete and braggadocio that often comes with 18- to 22-year-olds, landlords in Boston might expect a bit of crime in their neighborhoods ranging from petty thefts to drug dealing and even assaults.

In that case, you may be wondering what is a landlord’s liability for crimes?

Generally, landlords are required to provide a safe premises for their tenants. While no landlord is expected to fully guarantee the safety of every tenant, landlords are expected to take some steps to keep their premises safe.

So if a landlord is aware that the building is located in a high-crime area, the landlord may expose him or herself to liability if they carelessly install flimsy bolts or improperly working front door locks. And if robbers frequently crawl through windows, landlords may want to install bars on ground-floor windows and take other security precautions to discourage robbers.

In addition, if the landlord is aware that criminals or drug dealers hang out at the building, the landlord should take steps like calling the police to get those people removed.

Most importantly, if a landlord is aware of an existing problem like strangers coming in and out an unlocked gate, and fails to take any action, the landlord exposes himself to even greater liability.

However, it's pretty easy for landlords to avoid potential liability for crimes. Landlords can talk to tenants and learn their concerns about living in the building. In addition, landlords should regularly inspect the premises just to make sure there are not any vulnerable areas for criminal conduct.

By taking these acts, a landlord can protect him or herself from landlord liability for crimes by proving that they were diligent and made reasonable attempts to operate a safe premises.

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