Grazian and Volpe has practiced premises liability in Chicago for over 30 years. It has been disheartening to witness the disregard for human safety practiced by a few but a very harmful number of landlords. If fact, landlord should be used as the title used for responsible and caring persons who take care for the safety and well-being of their tenants. The others are simply “slumlords”. We find them primarily operating in distressed areas taking advantage of Section 8 housing regulations and the financial weakness of tenants. In our accident law practice we have advocated on behalf of hundreds of client/tenants personally injured through criminal activity and unsafe conditions engendered by the careless disregard or extreme negligence of these slumlords. Historically, Illinois courts have not proven as responsive to these complaints. However a recent verdict for $1 million will hopefully draw attention to the cruel and dangerous plight of tenants forced to rent from these negligent landlord. In this particular condo complex, multiple armed robberies, shootings and thefts were committed over a three year period; largely attributable to the property which had fallen into disrepair and lacked proper door locks and light fixtures. A tenant was shot and killed while walking to his car. He was survived by two adult sons who brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the landlord. They alleged that the landlord provided inadequate security. In addition, the wrongful death complaint stated that the landlord had hired an incompetent property manager with a criminal background. The case settled for $1 million. Grazian and Volpe knows this settlement will serve as a positive influence in premises liability law and help to convince courts and insurance carriers to treat slumlords and negligent property managers with an iron fist sending a firm message to those who do not treat the safety and welfare of their occupants and tenants with the same regard they would show for their own families.
Tenants are advised to be pro-active in finding and documenting safety and security issues with their landlords. Hopefully, the landlord is responsive and the tenants concerns are solved. If the landlord ignores the tenants request the tenant has documented the problems. This documentation will be useful if the tenant or others sustain a personal injury caused by the issues documented.