As an accident lawyer, I don’t typically deal with the terms of residential leases involving a tenant. Most tenants are aware of their basic rights. If you rent an apartment, your landlord has many responsibilities towards you. Typically, the landlord is required to provide a tenant heat and hot water. The landlord must maintain the apartment in a safe condition. The landlord has to make sure that there is no infestation of rodents or insects. And the list goes on.
However, as an accident attorney, I do deal with one issue involving residential tenancies. Many a tenant is not aware that, under New Jersey law, his or her landlord is also responsible for their safety. At least the landlord is responsible for the safety of a tenant up to a point.
LANDLORD’S SAFETY OBLIGATIONS TO A TENANT
A landlord has an obligation to at least make the common areas of the building secure. Say a landlord fails to install a lock on the front door of the building, leading to the lobby. Or, say the landlord did install a lock, but it broke. Then the landlord failed to repair it within a reasonable time. Afterwards, as a result, a tenant is criminally assaulted in the lobby. The law says that the tenant has a right to sue the landlord for compensation for his or her injuries.
The bottom line is simple. If you are a tenant and have been the victim of a criminal assault anywhere on the premises where you live, you should contact an accident lawyer immediately. The law limits your time to take action. If you miss a legal deadline, you will never be able to recover compensation, even if your case otherwise has merit.
If you are a landlord, the lesson is also simple. You should be vigilant about maintaining the safety of your building.
Here’s a link to an actual court case discussing a landlord’s duty to provide a safe environment.