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Personal injury: How safe are residents of gated communities?

Last November, a resident in a luxury, high-end apartment complex was found murdered outside his California residence. Although the identity of the killer remains a mystery, questions are being asked about the responsibility of the landlord toward tenants when it comes to security and their safety. Can he or she be held responsible for personal injury or wrongful death of a tenant?

Although the facility is advertised online as a gated community with 24/7 patrol, this security measure apparently did not serve its purpose on that day. The next question is about the presence of security cameras. This is also a tough question, because of the high expectancy of privacy. Restrictions exist for the areas at which surveillance cameras can be aimed.

Surveillance is allowed in common areas of residential facilities and the areas that are accessible to all, including the rec rooms, laundry areas, parking areas and hallways. However, it is reported that many luxury accommodation facilities install state-of-the-art surveillance systems but then fail to monitor and maintain them. Reportedly, this was also the case at the complex where the man was murdered. Several cameras were not functioning at the time.

Questions to consider in assessing the viability of a premises liability claim in California will deal with causation, such as whether the incident was foreseeable and what steps were taken as prevention. The plaintiff will likely have to show that if reasonable precautions were taken, the personal injury or death could have been prevented. Even if there is a promise of top-class security in the tenant's rental agreement, it will still be necessary to address these issues.

Source: hanfordsentinel.com, "Can a landlord be civilly liable for a tenant's murder?", Dennis Beaver, March 27, 2018

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