Does a Landlord Have to Provide Safety and Security to the Tenant

By Lane V. Erickson, attorney

The relationship between landlord and tenant is unique in the legal field and, as a result, is somewhat complicated. Both parties have certain statutory obligations to each other, defined by state law, and the written lease agreement which aims to reduce the complexity and confusion in residential landlord-tenant arrangements. Among these is the landlord’s obligation to protect his tenant from certain situations and/or to at least reduce the potential problems that may arise as the tenant continues to occupy the rental unit.

To provide a safe rental unit that satisfies all of the implied warranties of habitability, landlords should provide every tenant with basic security features to protect tenants and their personal property. This includes, at the very least, a front door with a functional lock, key locks for any other outgoing doors on the unit, security for all windows and appropriate lighting fixtures inside and outside of the unit. Landlords are also required to equip each unit with a working smoke detector (at a minimum, one for each floor in the unit).

Landlords have no obligation to provide any advanced security features to tenants–such as a security alarm system or private entryways–beyond the basic features required by state tenancy laws. However, if a landlord chooses to provide additional features, then the landlord does have an obligation to ensure that those features are in good, working order at all times. For example, if a tenant moves into a unit with an alarm system installed, the landlord is responsible to ensure that the system is working at all times. Likewise, if the landlord promises that active security personnel will be on duty during certain hours, the landlord is obligated to provide a qualified security guard at those times.

Common areas, or areas shared by multiple tenants, are also the landlord’s responsibility. This includes walkways, entryways, sidewalks, parking lots, shared laundry facilities and similar vicinities. Landlords should ensure that these areas are well lit at all times during evening and nighttime hours and that outside third parties cannot gain access. Landlords should also keep common areas clean and free of debris and potentially harmful objects (such as broken glass).

To protect tenants from potential nuisance, injury or death, landlords must also take steps to prevent criminal activity from occurring on or around property grounds. Landlords must remain vigilant of all possible criminal activities in the area and actively report or remove any individual–including other tenants or employees who have caused problems.

If you are a landlord and you have question about your obligations to provide security and safety to your tenants, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your Idaho Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate questions and will help you solve your Idaho Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate needs.

This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer for advice on specific legal issues.

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