The state of Florida recently passed legislation outlining certain security measures that the owner or principal operator of a multifamily residential property can implement to have a presumption against liability for criminal acts committed on the premises by third parties. The statute is not mandatory, but if these steps are implemented, it could offer protection against liability for criminal acts on the premises by actors who are not employees or agents of the owner/operator. The statute defines “Multifamily residential property” as a residential building, or group of residential buildings, such as apartments, townhouses, or condominiums, consisting of at least five dwelling units on a particular parcel.
These measures include:
- A security camera system at entry and exit points that records and maintains video footage for at least 30 days.
- Adequate lighting in the parking lot, walkways, laundry rooms, common areas, and porches from dusk until dawn.
- At least a 1-inch deadbolt on each dwelling unit door, a locking device on each window, exterior sliding door, and other non-community doors, and locked gates with key or fob access along pool fence areas.
- A peephole or door viewer on each dwelling unit door that does not include a window or does not have a window next to the door.
By January 1, 2025, the owner or operator must have a crime prevention through environmental design assessment, no more than 3 years old, completed for the property. The assessment must be performed by a law enforcement agency or a Florida Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Practitioner. The owner or operator must remain in substantial compliance with the assessment.
Also, by January 1, 2025, the owner or operator must provide proper crime deterrence and safety training to its current employees, and to new employees within 60 days of their hire date. This training should familiarize employees with the security principles, devices, measures, and standards set forth under paragraph (a), and should be reviewed at least every 3 years and updated as necessary.
Owners or operators do not have to comply with this statute, and they do not have to make any of these changes. However, if they make these recommended changes and a tenant brings suit based on criminal acts that were committed on the premises, the owner/operator would have a presumption against liability.