A landlord is responsible for maintaining the common areas of his property so as to minimize tenant exposure to an unreasonable risk of criminal attack.
As a general rule, a private person does not have a duty to protect another from a criminal attack by a third person. However, the rationale of the general rule exonerating a third party from any duty to protect another from a criminal attack has no applicability to the landlord-tenant relationship in multiple dwelling houses. The landlord is no insurer of his tenants’ safety, but he certainly is no bystander. The landlord is the only party with control over the common areas of the property. Therefore he, and not the tenants is in a position to take necessary protective steps. The landlord is not an insurer of the tenant’s safety, but he is obligated to minimize the risk of foreseeable harm. Here, the landlord has notice of repeated criminal assaults and robberies, has notice that these crimes occurred in the portion of the premises exclusively within his control, has every reason to expect like crimes to happen again, and has the exclusive power to take preventive action, it does not seem unfair to place upon the landlord a duty to take those steps which are within his power to minimize the predictable risk to his tenants. Given the clear foreseeability of the attack and the lack of reasonable protective measures, the X Corporation was negligent.