WHAT? I'M JUST A LANDLORD! HOW CAN I BE RESPONSIBLE FOR A HOME INVASION?
MISSISSIPPI UPDATE: LANDLORD’S DUTY TO KEEP PREMISES REASONABLY SAFE IN HOME INVASION CONTEXT: FORESEEABILITY BASED ON ATMOSPHERE OF VIOLENCE WITHIN APARTMENT COMPLEX.
FORESEEABILITY IS KEY: Is there an atmosphere of violence and should the landlord have done more?Nekole Bennett, et al, v. Highland Park Apartments LLC, et al., No. 2012-CA-01629-COA. Tenants were injured during a home invasion. The assailants entered through an open unguarded gate of an apartment complex and forcibly entered their apartment. The Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the landlord. A question of fact existed as to the landlord's duty to keep the premises reasonably safe because this type of criminal home invasion was foreseeable given the atmosphere of violence within the apartment complex.
SHOULD THE LANDLORD HAVE DONE MORE? It was for a jury to decide.In this particular case, factual issues existed concerning breach of duty based on the operation of the security gate, improper lighting, and lack of security patrols or guards. But for the landlord's failure to address these issues, the harm and damage to the tenant could have been avoided. As such, summary judgment was in error. Therefore, the question of liability was for the jury to decide.