The Obligation of a Property Owner to Provide Adequate Security
In New York, as in other states, the owner of residential or commercial property has a duty to take reasonable measures to minimize the risk of injury to anyone legally on the property. This duty extends to landlords, tenants and others who manage or have control of the premises. Though the common perception is that this requires that any physical hazards—broken steps, slippery floors, dangerous structures—be fixed or closed off, the duty also extends to the risk of injury when there is inadequate security at a building or on real property.
Inadequate security can take many forms, and often depends on a number of factors, such as location of the premises, as well as how the premises are used. For example, if a business or residence is in an area with a known reputation for crime, it will likely be considered reasonable that the owner, landlord or tenant take greater precautions to minimize the risk of injury. This may include additional lighting, restrictions to entry, or even the posting of a security guard.
If the type of business is one where persons may be isolated, such as a motel, it will be more reasonable to have a higher level of security than in an open area in a mall, where there will typically be many people around.
If you are injured in a mugging, you will have to show that the owner, landlord or tenant could have taken reasonable steps to prevent the mugging. There is no hard and fast rule for what will be considered “reasonable.” That determination is always left to a jury, and is based on the unique factual circumstances of each case.