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Landlord/Agent's Duty to Disclose and Prevent Burglaries

Flushing, NY |

Do landlords and real estate agents have a legal obligation to disclose information about burglaries that have happened in an apartment building at the time time a prospective renter is inspecting an apartment? Due to a lack of high fences and barbed wire on top of those fences and surveillance cameras aimed at the fire escapes in the rear of an apartment building in Rego Park, at least 2 tenants of that building had their apartments burglarized this past Sunday. Based on this, does the landlord that neglected to sufficiently restrict access to the rear of that building to tenants and their guests, as opposed to thieves, have a legal obligation to implement such restrictions and at no cost to tenants immediately?

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Attorney answers 1


This is a good question. It is also one that is not easily answered. Your question is specific but some facts are missing that would be needed to answer this precisely. A landlord does have a responsibility to give the prospective tenant safe premises. Meaning if a landlord rents an apt with a latent or hidden defect that can cause injury and it does that would be a problem. When it comes to burglaries it really depends. Normally a person/agent/landlord etc cannot be responsible or liable for a subsequent criminal act of someone else. It is not reasonably foreseeable that someone will commit a crime therefore no liability. However, if there is a continuous pattern of burglaries, break-ins and the like and the landlord becomes aware of this and doesnt take measures, when measures are able to be taken to help the problem then there may be some liabillity. The questions will then be, how many break-ins rise to the level of a continuous problem. Was the landlord always notified and made aware of the issue? Is it a problem that is reasonably possible for the landlord to fix? Meaning if the expense of putting in camera's , fences, etc is unreasonable that may limit the liability if there is any. Putting barb wire around a fence is not as simple as you may think. That is a major safety hazard that a landlord cannot risk if they would even legally be allowed to do so as per town safety code.

The renter also has to do thier due diligence and research on the place they are renting and surrounding area. The renter cannot just rely on the representations of the landlord or his agent. This means asking the proper questions. A real estate agent, who works for the homeowner, does not legally have an obligation to disclose that kind of information. Ethically is another question. However, if the renter asks what is the crime level in this area, specifically has this building or home been broken into and they lie and say no, they then have breached thier duty and most likely violated some responsibility of thier license to sell real estate, though I am not sure of that. There is a lot of movingn parts in a scenario like this. An attorney can certainly help you clarify your rights with a more detailed outline of the facts. Best of luck

This is not legal advice or counsel to any specific case or matter that you may have pending in any court. This is a general answer with the intention to provide some general information on a specific topic. Any answers to these questions are not protected by the attorney client privilege. An attorney should always be consulted and/or retained if you are looking for advice specific to your case.

Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Warren Smollens


Excellent answer. And this should provide interesting reading on this complex subject:

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