Could the owners of Appletree Apartments be civilly liable in the fatal shooting of a man on their property?
Atlanta police are investigating a shooting at Appletree Apartments. The shooting occurred the morning of February 10, 2022, just before noon. Neighbors reported hearing a gunshot, and witnessing a man slump over. The victim was pronounced dead when the police arrived on scene. The name of the victim, as well as any potential suspects or motive, has not been released by the authorities.
When landlords in Georgia fail to take reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable crimes, they may be held liable in civil court. Landlords are expected to address crime before it becomes a chronic problem. This can be done, in part, by improving lighting conditions, employing onsite security, and maintaining perimeter fencing with access-controlled gates which reliably work. Should they fail to take reasonable measures in response to known crime risks, landlords could potentially be held liable in the civil justice system.
Online reviews share concerns over unauthorized access to the property and maintenance issues including mold. When an ownership group fails to address resident concerns over maintenance issues, it could be indicative that they turn a similar blind eye to security concerns.
“Do not believe any of the good reviews, ALL LIES!!!” one review begins, “kids are horrible, they run around destroying property . . . the gate never work[s] either.” One review alleges that management is “painting over mold in empty apartments just to get someone to move in.” Another reviewer tells the story of incomplete maintenance leaving multiple holes in her ceiling and that she is considering hiring a lawyer while awaiting a city inspector. “The gate is always broken for a week or so,” complains another resident. A reviewer writes “[t]he only thing I never understood is why at the front gate, there are buildings OUTSIDE the gate. If the gate is meant to keep out unsavory types, then why have a few apartments outside of it?”
Police may apprehend the perpetrators of violent crime and bring them to justice. However, they cannot serve justice to a negligent landlord who allowed crime to flourish on their doorstep. It is up to the families of the victims, and the survivors, of violent crimes to use the civil courts to demand justice. A civil lawsuit cannot bring the victim of a deadly violent crime back to their families, but a monetary settlement or judgment can honor the legacy of the lost, and help families and loved ones move forward in their own lives. Perhaps most importantly, a monetary judgment can help incentivize landlords to make the necessary changes to secure their properties against violent crime and prevent future tragedy. In this way we can help Make Atlanta Safe, one community at a time.
Only the survivors of violent crimes or the families of victims can use the civil court system to hold property owners and managers accountable when they fail to take reasonable precautions to protect tenants and guests from known threats. By holding them accountable, we can motivate property owners to make meaningful changes to prevent violent crime from happening to others. In that way, together, we can help Make Atlanta Safe.
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