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Galveston Lawyers for Rental Property Crime Victims

Property Owners Owe Visitors and Tenants Certain Protections

Theft, violent attack, or even kidnapping: three things you’d never expect to happen at your home. When you’re a property owner, you can install all the security and protective devices you need. As a renter, however, you have to rely on your landlord to keep you and other residents safe. Though this expectation doesn’t cover everything—after all, sometimes accidents happen and no amount of foresight or care could have made a difference—you can, in some cases, apply it to crimes committed against you on someone else’s property.

Identifying Property Owners’ “Duty of Care”

Expecting a landowner to protect anyone on their property from any crime is a tall orderRen and not a presumption that holds up under Texas law. Neither are landowners free from accountability regarding any third-party actions that take place on their property. As with other premises liability cases, the question revolves around whether the at-fault party was in some way negligent or purposefully irresponsible in a way that led to a plaintiff’s injuries.

Here’s a little bit about when and how this branch of law protects tenants and visitors to another’s property.

Classes of Visitors

Depending on their relationship with the injured party, a property owner may or may not be liable for certain harms. There are three classifications a guest may belong to:

  • Trespassers access a property without permission, but that does not preclude them from protection. If injured through recklessness or intentional attack on the property owner’s part, even someone who was not supposed to be present may have grounds to sue.
  • Licensees have permission to enter but are not in an economic relationship with the property owner. This class includes renters’ guests. For these individuals, the property owner must provide warning of unsafe conditions that visitors may not see or know about, or remove the hazard entirely.
  • Invitees are permitted guests who have an economic relationship—such as a lease agreement—with the property owner. These individuals receive a slightly greater level of protection; any dangers that are either apparent or would be found by a “reasonably careful inspection” must be clearly warned for or rectified.

“Unreasonable and Foreseeable Risk”

As the property owner is not expected to make equal allowances for all types of visitors, they also benefit from restrictions on when they must protect these groups against crime. By Texas law, a property owner cannot be held liable unless they fail to provide adequate protection against criminal activity they would be expected to know about. Lawyers call this the duty to protect against “unreasonable and foreseeable risk” of a crime.

Foreseeable Criminal Action: Just because a property has not been the scene of a crime before does not mean one cannot be foreseen. A past ruling in Texas courts determined a five-pronged test to determine whether criminal action can be expected on a property. Depending on the proximity, recency, frequency, similarity, and publicity of past crimes, a plaintiff could argue that it would be reasonable to expect illegal activities that might harm visitors.

Unreasonable Risk: There is no point in anyone’s life when they are not at some risk of a crime, though it may be minuscule. We could have our wallet snatched in the grocery store; our nose broken in a disagreement; our car nearly run off the road by an irate driver. These things could happen almost anywhere, including the comfort of our own home. Only when this risk is much inflated (to unreasonable levels) is the property owner responsible for putting protective measures into place.

Making a Case for Premises Liability After a Crime

If you are a renter (or a visitor) who was the victim of criminal activity, you may be able to file suit against the property owner if their negligence was a major contributing factor to your injury and losses. We know it can be scary to have your life disrupted by someone who means to cause harm. Especially when this happens in your home, it can be difficult to feel safe. Our legal team is here to help in this difficult time. You have the right to recover damages after being exploited by a criminal. If you can prove the owner of your property should have done more to keep you safe, you may be able to collect compensation.

We’ll evaluate your case for free and let you know your legal options. Just reach out to our team online or call (888) 221-2437 to speak to a lawyer.

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