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  • legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

    Last night someone in my neighbors apt fired a gun that went through 7 walls in my apt. Luckily no one was hurt. However, is this legal grounds to break my lease?

  • #2
    re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

    Holy Hell! That was some high powered gun if it went through 7 walls.

    It's possible, based on carelessness and recklessness of neighbors in such close proximity to your dwelling that someone in your apartment could have been hurt or worse, killed, which is a miracle in itself that nobody was.

    If I were in your situation I would likely approach the landlord and ask for an early termination without penalty. Your landlord can be sued for a situation such as this for allowing firearms in units in the first place.

    Comment


    • #3
      re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

      That last answer was not correct. Firearms in one's own home are legal unless one is prohibited from owning firearms as part of some legal case (such as probation or parole). Carrying them in public can be illegal without the proper permits. It is perfectly permissible to have firearms there unless there is a rule in the unit's leases that specifically prohibits them. You can't sue the LL because your neighbor owns firearms. You can sue the neighbor for improper storage or use of them. The LL can sue him for the damages his improper storage or use caused.

      It is a bad situation to be in. You can request a lease break, but don't expect to get it without consequences and fees to pay. It was not the LL's fault that this happened. It wasn't his gun, nor did he fire it. You can't blame the LL for crime in the complex unless he knows about it ahead of time and fails to prevent it. Expect to pay a lease break fee. Get the release from your lease in writing when you do pay it.

      Comment


      • #4
        re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

        Depending on the state involved, actually it's not true that people can possess firearms "in their own homes". That's the rub. They are not in their own homes. They are in rental units that involve immediate neighbors within the same walls. It is the choice of the landlord to allow firearms in tenant's units, as it would increase their overall liability, insurance-wise at the least.

        I am a landlord and I do no allow tenants to store or have firearms in my rentals and it is perfectly legal for me to disallow them.

        The firearm being stored isn't in question. It was obviously loaded an in use if someone shot it. That is not merely storing them.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

          A rented unit IS one's own home. For all legal purposes, what you can do in a rented apartment is the same as what you can do in your owned home unless there is a rule or lease clause that prohibits it. This is no different than owning a row home where there are also common walls with another person.

          Yes, a LL may prohibit some behaviors that would otherwise be allowed (smoking, pets, firearms, etc.). All increase liability. A smart LL may do so. But unless those prohibitions are in place before the lease is signed and the tenants are made aware of them, these behaviors are permitted. In lack of lease clauses or rules against a behavior, a tenant can reasonably expect to be able to do such behaviors. (ie: If there lacks a "no pets" clause, the tenant can expect that behavior is permitted - he may have pets.) So if firearms are permitted in homes in the state, and there are no current rules or lease clauses against them, firearms are permitted in rented units. If the LL is smart, he will enact a rule for the safety of all tenants to prohibit these.

          Any improper and idiotic use of the stored firearm is the tenant's responsibility, not the LL's. Another tenant's actions do not allow this tenant to break a lease (contract) with the LL without consequences.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

            Well since the OP hasn't stated whether a firearms clause is in their lease or not, we're putting the cart before the horse.

            A landlord CAN be sued regardless of whether or not there was a clause about firearms in their lease if someone was killed or injured on that property the landlord owns. Just like if I go to your house and get hurt, I can sue you as a property owner. It would also bring to light that landlords should include a NO FIREARMS clause in their lease, to cover themselves from that liability.

            But since the OP has not added any additional information, it is all just hyperbole at this juncture.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

              Of course, anyone can sue anyone. But unless there IS a no firearms clause in the lease (and it is NOT a common lease clause) the LL would prevail in court. He had no prior knowledge of the firearm (was he informed ahead of time?) nor any knowledge that it would be used in the commission of any crime (he didn't plan or commit it). He would have been unable to prevent this. He would prevail. The tenant would have to show the LL had prior knowledge of crime such as this and that he took no steps to prevent it from recurring in order to win such a suit

              And a hyperbole is not included in either answer here. A hyperbole is defined as:
              1. an obvious and intentional exaggeration.
              2. an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “She’s as big as a house.”

              There is no exaggeration here. I think you meant that it was conjecture to guess that a clause was or was not included.

              con·jec·ture (kn-jkchr)
              n.
              1. Inference or judgment based on inconclusive or incomplete evidence; guesswork.
              2. A statement, opinion, or conclusion based on guesswork: The commentators made various conjectures about the outcome of the next election.

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              • #8
                Re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

                Thanks for the definitions lesson, but I did mean hyperbole, and not on the part of the OP. For instance, it's hyperbole to state that rented homes are the same as "own homes". It is not. That is an exaggeration.

                There need be no clause in a landlord's lease that alerts a tenant that they cannot make structural or even decorative changes to a unit. You cannot fix/repair without the expressed permission by the landlord. You cannot paint or wallpaper without the expressed consent/permission of the landlord. You cannot remodel the bathroom without the expressed consent/permission of the landlord. (the list goes on)

                None of these truths are included in the lease, but it still holds true. On the other hand, you can do whatever you want, to, and in, your home if you own it. There is a big difference between renting and owning, which is why so many people buy homes after years of renting, or instead of renting. Freedom to do in their own homes what they could not do in a rental.

                Further, it does not matter if the landlord had prior knowledge a gun was present. If, as a property owner, someone died or was injured as a result of the actions of someone living and renting on his property, he CAN be sued. Just like if I, owning my own home, invited someone to my house, and they had a gun, and he whipped it out and killed another person, or injured another person, I could be sued for damages, even though I had no prior knowledge. This is why there is liability insurance, property insurance. If a burglar breaks into my home and injures himself, he can sue me, even though I had no prior knowledge he was going to break in and be injured. Fair? No. Law? Yes. You are free to research cases just like the ones I've described and you will be surprised to find I am correct.



                Reading your post brought to mind another word for you to look up. Supercilious.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

                  Originally posted by Unregistered View Post
                  There need be no clause in a landlord's lease that alerts a tenant that they cannot make structural or even decorative changes to a unit. You cannot fix/repair without the expressed permission by the landlord. You cannot paint or wallpaper without the expressed consent/permission of the landlord. You cannot remodel the bathroom without the expressed consent/permission of the landlord. (the list goes on)
                  Not true. If these things are not listed as prohibited within the lease, there is NO regulation stating the tenant may not do them. State laws do not say the tenant may not alter the property. Laws only state that a tenant may not commit waste (severe damage to the property). If a LL is negligent and fails to prohibit painting, redecorating, etc, nothing in most state laws would say the tenant cannot do so. I suggest you insert these in your leases if they are not included! You would be unable to hold a tenant liable for painting if they repainted a unit and it was not prohibited by lease clause. You had better go and read your state laws on LL-Tenant. Many of the believed protections above simply don't exist in those laws. You are mistaken if you think these items are in all state laws.

                  And a reasonable jury would have a hard time finding the LL negligent if he has no knowledge of an act. Just because it happens on one's property does not make them liable or responsible for the act. Crime is everywhere. Of course, there are juries in some states that often jump to unreasonable conclusions. So I do agree that liability insurance is always a good idea.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

                    It doesn't need to be state law, nor does it have to be required by a landlord to include in a lease that no alterations be made to someone else's property(the landlord's) unless there the landlord approves of it and agrees to it. When have you ever encountered a rental situation where a tenant did not understand that he/she could not willy nilly go making any type of remodel or alteration they want to a piece of property that does not belong to them? Many landlords will tell the tenant that this is understood, without having to include it in their lease clause. Many rental agreements are month to month rentals anyway, and to not include the lengthy language included in 6 month/ 1 years leases. Courts acknowledge that it is not a situation that need be included in a legal rental agreement. It is understood that renters are renters and owners of property are the only people who can legally make any improvements to their property.

                    Growing up, my mother and I moved from rental to rental, and all landlords told my mom, of course it goes without saying that the property may not be altered, even for decorating purposes without their approval. That was never included in the rental agreement, however, as it's usually understood.

                    We, many times, lived in apartments with stark white walls (throughout the unit) and could do nothing about it. We, therefore, could not "do anything a homeowner can do in their own home". We could put up wall art, but we had to repair any holes left behind. Some landlords did not even allow that. We bought those sticky things that you can take down and it leaves no hole or mark behind, in order to get some relief from those stark white walls.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

                      In small claims court, many times (if not all) there is no jury. Only a judge who will be hearing, and deciding a case.

                      If landlords and homeowners aren't found negligible, tell that to those who have been successfully sued. Again, research some of these instances before making that sort of claim. Homeowners are sued all the time for acts they had no knowledge of, and they end up paying. That is why there is insurance.

                      I can be sued for you coming onto my property and breaking your leg, should you feel the need to sue me, and I would have to pay your medical costs along with possible punitive damages, should the court feel the need to "teach me a lesson". I didn't have any foreknowledge that you were going to break your leg, but if it happened on my property, you can sue me. I am at a loss as to why this concept is so difficult to comprehend.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

                        "When have you ever encountered a rental situation where a tenant did not understand that he/she could not willy nilly go making any type of remodel or alteration they want to a piece of property that does not belong to them?"

                        You must be a new LL. I see it at least twice a year. Despite that clause in the lease, tenants still paint walls, re-wire to install lights, re-wire cable outlets, install their own flooring, cut out carpet to install tile entries, glue wainscoting on the walls, paint stained woodwork, install wallpaper and borders, remove doors, insert 6" nails in the walls to hold pictures, etc. These are just to mention a few things that I've seen many, many times.

                        One LL I know encountered a tenant remodel of a basement where they dug out the crawlspace, installed walls, and cut a door for the new room in the basement wall (a load bearing wall!) If this clause is not in your lease, a tenant can claim to have improved the property, not committed waste to it. Without that clause, it would be up to a judge to rule if the deduction is legal. If the change to the property is ruled an "improvement" by a court, you may receive nothing for the alterations. Courts have long held that if there is no prohibition against it, the action may be considered permissible. If you didn't tell the tenant he couldn't paint, you may not be able to deduct for re-painting costs. Most states laws only say the tenant must return the property to the LL in the same general condition less wear & tear. If he received it with freshly painted walls and returned it with freshly painted walls, it is in the same general condition. It's just not the same color as it was. Today's renters are not the same as in the past. The same respect for the property does not exist. Insert this clause, even in a m2m agreement to protect yourself. No agreements should be implied or understood. Put everything in writing! If you don't, you may live to regret it.

                        Small claims court limits are tiny. If someone is going to sue over a gunshot, it would be in civil court, where there are juries. Negligence needs to be proved to obtain punitive damages (which is where the large awards come from.) If I come onto your property and trip on a bad stair which you had knowledge of and failed to fix, you are negligent. I can receive punitive damages which can total in the millions of dollars. If I sue in small claims, I will get no more than medical bills since the small claims court limits are under $15,000. Most states have limits of only $1500-5000 in small claims.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

                          I appreciate the input you are providing, but the fact remains that tenants cannot make alterations, remodel, or make any improvements to an owner's property (a landlord is an owner of property) without the permission of the landlord regardless of whether it's in a lease or not. Any improvements can cause the landlord's property taxes to rise, and can either add or detract fair market value. Something the landlord may or may not wish to have happen. It still remains the property of the landlord, and only they have that right.

                          If a tenant claims to have improved a property, something they have absolutely no right to do, as they are not the property owner of record, these landlords you speak of would be remiss to not take them to court over it. It is also very stupid of a tenant to do, as they get no equity out of it, or any other value, other than to "improve" their esthetic surrounding ONLY for the time being they occupy the rental.

                          Landlords remain property owners, and as such, only they have the right to appreciate, or depreciate the value of their homes/properties. Period. It is not the right of the tenant in any way shape or form.

                          I'm not sure what you mean when you say tenants today are not like those of the past.

                          I can appreciate that you have a lot of knowledge, as is evidenced in your posts, but really, landlords are first and foremost property owners, and only they can decide what improvements are made.

                          As for someone shooting a gun that causes damage, the landlord himself/herself can bring suit, as it has damaged his/her property. I know I surely would. I would also begin, immediately, the eviction process. Such actions have put others in perilous danger that could very well have resulted in someone's death.

                          I think we've hijacked this thread enough from the OP. If you would like to continue our discussion/debate, whatever you want to call it, let's begin our own thread.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: legal causes (neighbors apt fired a gun)

                            I just want to add that I suggested our own thread because I do enjoy reading the input you have to provide, and it provides thought provocation without defensiveness, as I hope mine do for you.

                            Comment

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