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Texas Landlord Obligations Under Premises Liability Laws

Tenants in an apartment have the right to expect the property will be reasonably safe so they are not exposed to unnecessary risks or unacceptable dangers. Property owners and managers have basic obligations like maintaining common areas. Property owners, apartment managers and/or security companies can potentially become responsible if they fail in their obligations to tenants. Victims who are hurt because of a failure to fulfill a legal obligation may consult with a premises liability lawyer for assistance in making a claim for damages.

Texas Premises Liability AttorneyAmong the duties of property managers is to provide adequate security. When a security company serves the property, it also has a basic obligation to provide a reasonable level of security it has been contracted to provide. One recent lawsuit filed after a horrific crime is based on premises liability laws and alleges a property owner, property management company, and security provider failed in their obligations to a tenant, leading to her death.

Negligent Security Lawsuit Filed After Murder

The recent lawsuit reported on by the Sun Sentinel involves allegations the property managers, security company and property owners failed in their security obligations and facilitated a break-in that turned fatal. The lawsuit was filed in June, one year after the victim was killed. The victim was a pastry chef living in an apartment, and her parents are the plaintiffs in the wrongful death claim.

The victim was allegedly killed by her neighbor, who was 15 at the time and who is 16 now as he awaits trial for premeditated murder, armed burglary and petty theft. The alleged perpetrator, who is being tried as an adult, reportedly broke into the victim's house in June 2014. He entered the home through a sliding glass door in the kitchen and he took the victim's wallet. He also used a kitchen knife from the victim's home to stab her multiple times.

Parents of the victim claim negligent security made the crime possible. They allege, among other things, there was inadequate lighting in the gated apartment complex, the security firm did not do its job, and the locks were not sufficient to keep criminals out of apartments. It will be the burden of the parents to prove their case in court in order to be awarded damages from the defendants for the death of their daughter.

Property managers, property owners and security companies cannot be expected to prevent every criminal act. To determine if they are responsible for the incident here, an assessment will need to be made on what their duty was to the victim, whether they failed in their obligation, and whether their failures were a direct cause of the fatal crime. It is also important to determine if the hazards the defendants failed to protect against were foreseeable. In other words, the parents must show it was a reasonable possibility a criminal would have been able to break into the victim's apartment as a likely result of substandard security conditions.

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