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What is negligent security at a business or rental property?

When visiting a friend for a housewarming party at their new apartment or meeting up with coworkers for drinks after finishing a big project, people expect to visit public spaces with minimal personal risk. Unfortunately, many people get mugged in the parking lots of apartment buildings or assaulted in the bathroom hallway of a bar. 

Anyone visiting public spaces could end up victimized by someone with criminal intentions. When crimes occur on someone’s property, the owner can sometimes have liability for the outcome of the criminal incident even though they had no involvement in it. If someone can reasonably claim negligent security practices led to their injuries, the property owner or business may be liable for their losses. 

What is negligent security? 

It would be unreasonable to demand that property owners and businesses protect against all criminal activity. However, it is appropriate to expect that individuals and business owners address likely sources of liability for themselves and the public. Buying a property in an area with high crime rates or starting a business commonly associated with certain kinds of crimes will potentially open someone up to liability unless the owners take common-sense steps to deter criminal activity. 

Property owners and those running businesses could face allegations of negligent security if a reasonable person would agree that there was a heightened risk for certain criminal activity at the location or because of the business model. Failing to install lights or security cameras or choosing not to hire security professionals in a high-risk industry are both examples of potentially negligent security practices. 

If negligence contributed to a criminal incident, then there may be grounds for a premises liability claim. Evaluating who might have financial and legal culpability for a recent criminal incident can help better compensate the people affected.