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Landlord Liability for Sexual Assaults of Tenants and Guests

Under Pennsylvania and New Jersey law, businesses may bear liability for the acts of third parties (e.g., criminals). That liability includes robberies, rapes and other violent assaults. Liability may extend to other parties in addition to the landlord or property owner. For instance, a property management company or a security company may be liable. Usually, the primary theory of liability is negligence in failing to provide reasonable security for tenants and guests of tenants.

Below are two situations when a landlord, property owner and/or property management company may be liable for criminal activity, such as a sexual assault.

1. Landlord’s Employee Sexually Assaults Tenant

In this situation, an employee of the landlord, property owner or management company sexually assaults a tenant or guest of a tenant. The employer may be liable for negligent hiring or negligent retention. If there are facts to support that the employer failed to conduct a reasonable background check which would have revealed a history of arrests or convictions of sexually abusive behavior, the employer (i.e., landlord, etc.) may face liability for negligence in hiring the abuser. If there is evidence that the perpetrator-employee had previously attacked another tenant or that others made complaints to the employer about prior sexually abusive conduct, the employer may be liable for negligently retaining the employee. In other words, the landlord is liable for failing to fire an employee who was known to be sexually abusive.

2. Criminal Gains Access to Tenant Living Area Due to Broken Door Lock System

In this scenario, a criminal gains access to a tenant’s apartment or living area due to a broken door, lock or window. Liability will attach if there is sufficient evidence that the landlord had previous knowledge of the issue. For example, if the tenant or other tenants made prior complaints about the problem and the landlord did nothing, then the landlord may be liable for failing to rectify the problem.

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault in an apartment complex, hotel or motel, it is best to speak to a knowledgeable negligent security liability and injury lawyer to discuss the facts of your case and determine the viability of a civil lawsuit.

More from our Sex Abuse Victims Legal Rights Law Library:

Sexual Abuse Victims Attorney & Advocate

Laffey, Bucci & Kent handles sexual abuse cases in the Northeast area with offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Attorneys at the firm are licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The firm has the resources and experience to handle sex abuse cases in all states and welcomes calls from the public and local counsel about potential cases.

Firm partner, Brian Kent, is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now fights for victims’ rights to obtain justice in civil cases.  Click To Call

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.