Georgia landlords have a duty to fix broken security gates in order to keep residents safe. This is especially true when they have notice of criminal activity nearby. If there is a history of break-ins or robberies in the area, your landlord may be required to provide heightened security. When a complex falls into disrepair, your landlord may be on the hook for injuries suffered as a result of negligent security. One of the most common cases of negligent security is the failure to repair a faulty security gate. And, unfortunately, the consequences of a defective security gate can be deadly.
Liability for Negligent Security in Georgia
The owners and managers of Georgia apartment complexes owe a duty to both tenants and visitors to take steps to prevent crime on their premises. O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1. Any apartment complex that fails to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their tenants could be held liable for the damages that result from crime on the property. Walker v. Aderhold Properties, Inc., 303 Ga. App. 710 (2010).
Landlords and property managers are not liable for every crime that occurs at a Georgia apartment complex. There are two primary requirements that must be met for liability to apply to a landlord:
- The criminal actions must have been foreseeable
- The landlord must have failed to take reasonable measures to prevent crime
To be liable to a crime victim, a landlord or property manager must have been able to foresee the possibility of the crime in question. Drayton v. Kroger Co., 297 Ga. App. 484 (2009). The best way to prove a crime was foreseeable is to determine if similar criminal activity has occurred on or around the complex. If the apartment has had a string of break-ins, or if the surrounding neighborhood has a history of muggings, the threat may have been foreseeable to the point that your landlord should have taken steps to prevent it. In assessing the foreseeability of similar crimes, Georgia courts will “inquire into the location, nature and extent of the prior criminal activities and their likeness, proximity or other relationship to the crime in question.” Sturbridge Partners, Ltd. v. Walker, 267 Ga. 785 (1997).
The second requirement is that the landlord failed to take “reasonable” steps to address the threat. Whether or not a step is reasonable is entirely subjective and determined on a case by case basis. Matt v. Days Inns, 212 Ga. App. 792, 794 (1994). If a negligent security lawsuit ends up going to trial, it will be up to the jury to determine if the steps taken were reasonable. But when it comes to the failure to repair a broken security gate, a strong case can be made that it is unreasonable allow a gate to remain in disrepair. After all, the gate is there for a reason.
While landlords and management companies might point to the cost of maintaining security gates, those costs are less than other security measures that may be necessary in areas where violent crime is rampant. Additionally, any savings from failing to maintain a security gate can quickly be wiped away by one incident of vandalism or property damage. Plus, it is a small price to pay for a landlord to protect their tenants.
Discuss Your Case With A Georgia Negligent Security Attorney
If you were a victim of crime at your Georgia apartment complex, you may have a claim based on your landlord’s failure to provide adequate security. A Georgia premises liability lawyer can review your case and determine if your landlord failed to take reasonable steps to protect you. To learn more, contact our firm at 833-LEGALGA for a free consultation. If you aren’t ready to speak to an attorney, you can learn more about negligent security cases on our YouTube Channel.