June 5, 2014

Can a Landlord be Liable for Sexual Assault that Occurs in an Apartment Complex?

Broken_door_lockThere are certain situations where a landlord or property owner could be considered liable for a sexual assault that occurred on a rented property in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Under the same circumstances, they may be liable for other acts including robbery and assault.

1. A Broken Door or Lock

If the assailant gets into the living space through a broken door or lock, your landlord may again be liable. This may only be the case if you can prove that your landlord had prior knowledge that this item was in need of repair. Typically, a maintenance request or previous complaint would be enough evidence.

2. Assault by a Landlord’s Employee

The second situation would require that the assailant was an employee of the landlord or property manager. The landlord could face tort or negligence charges if he or she failed to conduct a proper background check that would have revealed a history of arrests or sexual or violent behavior. In this case, they would have been negligent in hiring the assailant. Additionally, the landlord may be guilty of negligently retaining the employee if he or she had received prior complaints about the employee’s inappropriate behavior. Basically, the misconduct must have been reasonably foreseeable.

If you were sexually assaulted in an apartment complex or hotel, you should speak with a crime victims attorney to determine liability.