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November 25, 2016 |

Landlords: How Much Security Must You Provide for Tenants?

Providing housing to multiple families carries significant responsibilities. In addition to handling legal issues ranging from leases to tenant complaints, maintaining habitable premises is a detailed and time-consuming process. Clearly, this means that buildings must meet certain basic requirements such as providing running water, kitchen facilities and heat.

Massachusetts’ State Sanitary Code details all requirements. However, new landlords in particular may not be aware that the code also spells out security requirements. This is an important issue to get right — before tenants lose their possessions or their lives from preventable criminal activity.

First, Provide Approved Locks

The most important security devices are locks that help prevent unauthorized access to each dwelling unit. The State Sanitary Code details specific requirements for these locks, as follows:

  • Access to individual units: The entry door to each individual rental unit must be equipped with locks that prevent unlawful entry.
  • Window protection: Tenants must be able to secure any exterior window that can be opened.
  • Building access: Any building with three or more dwelling units must have a self-closing, automatically-locking entry door that prevents unauthorized access.
  • Safe exit: Locks must be designed to prevent occupants from becoming locked in a building. In the event of fire or other emergencies, any occupant must be able to exit from any door without having to provide a key.

Of course, providing locks is only a first step toward providing security. Landlords also need to establish security policies, which should be written into every lease. For example, building entrance doors should never be propped open without constant supervision by a tenant or other authorized attendant.

Additionally, landlords should never permit access by workers without accompanying them at all times. Finally, it may not be required by law, but landlords should consider automatically changing the locks to units when tenants move out.

Tenants Also Have a Responsibility for Security

While the law requires landlords to take some responsibility for tenant security, the tenants must also act sensibly to protect their own safety and that of other tenants. Like landlords, they must also take care to follow all security procedures.

If they prop open entranceway doors or they permit unattended access to any individuals, their unreasonable behavior can make them responsible for losses or injuries. In the event of a security breach, however, tenants may believe that the landlord is ultimately accountable to compensate them for their losses.

Whether you face legal action due to a criminal act that occurred on your property — or if you just want to learn more about your responsibilities toward maintaining safe premises, the Law Offices of Shaun A. Hannafin can help. Call a knowledgeable Boston landlord lawyer at (617) 848-4572.

Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information

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