What are a landlord's safety responsibilities?

Apartment tenants pay rent for more than a roof over their head. Among their duties to maintain a habitable residence, landlords must provide a safe place to live or face a premises liability lawsuit when a tenant is injured.

Tenants have the right to fill secure in their dwellings. All doors and windows must be properly secured and equipped with working locks and must be in good repair. At a minimum, a deadbolt lock should be installed on all front doors.

All safety codes must be followed. This includes, among other things, the installation and upkeep of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Keys should be held only by the tenant and appropriate and trusted landlord employees. Locks must be changed when a tenant moves out and before a new tenant takes possession. A generic lock may be used if realtors enter the apartment to show it to potential tenants. If this occurs, a new lock needs to be installed when a new tenant moves in.

Outdoor areas should also be well-lit and free from hazards, such as broken steps, handrails that are not secure and icy sidewalks. In addition to structural precautions, landlords have other safety responsibilities. In multi-unit properties, tenants have the right to feel secure with the other residents in their building or complex. All potential tenants should be screened for criminal charges and other potential problems, such as a history of evictions and lies on their applications.

Landlords may also be held liable for injuries if they allow residents to keep animals that are considered dangerous. Breeds that have a higher likelihood of biting may also make other tenants feel insecure.

Legal action may be necessary when a property is kept in an unsafe condition. An attorney can help an injured tenant seek compensation from a negligent property owner.

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