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Is my landlord responsible for my losses?

When renting a home or an apartment, one expects the property to be safe. It is unfortunate that some New Jersey residents end up renting properties that someone maintained poorly or are in unsafe neighborhoods. If you are a tenant who has experienced losses due to crime or an accident on the property, your landlord may be responsible for your losses.

Landlords have rather difficult jobs. It is not easy to keep tenants happy all the time. At the end of the day, it is not about keeping tenants happy, though; it is about keeping the property safe for use. If a landlord fails in his or her responsibility, tenants have every right to pursue legal actions.

Building safety

In order for an apartment unit or home to be suitable to rent out, it has to be in good working condition. Any hazards must be fixed in a timely manner. Sadly, there are numerous stories of tenants filing work orders only for them to go ignored. Sometimes, landlords will blame it on a lack of funds, and sometimes, it will all come down to a lack of caring -- particularly in low income housing areas.

Crime

There are some areas of the city in which crime is more prone to happen. Some feel that there is nothing anyone can do about it; however, when a tenant reports criminal activity taking place on the property to a landlord, the property owner has a legal responsibility to address the matter.

Tenant responsibility

While it may seem that every problem falls directly on the landlord, this is not true. A property owner cannot address problems of which he or she is not aware. Tenants have a responsibility to report known problems as soon as possible so that the property owner can address them. Tenants can also protect themselves by:

  • Researching the property and surrounding area before signing a lease
  • Obtaining renters insurance
  • Keeping doors and windows locked

All of these things may seem like common sense, but people can easily overlook them.

Premises liability claims

If you've suffered injuries in an accident due to hazardous property conditions or have suffered losses due to criminal activity on your rental property, the landlord may be responsible for any resulting damages. According to state laws, you may file a premises liability claim -- or any other applicable claim -- in an effort to recoup your losses. You can file such claims in civil court with the assistance of an experienced attorney.

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