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A Better Partnership
August 02, 2013

MSC holds that a landlord has a duty to expedite police involvement

In Bailey v Schaaf, the Michigan Supreme Court held that a landlord has the duty to expedite police involvement when the landlord has notice of criminal activity that poses a risk of imminent and foreseeable harm to an identifiable tenant or invitee. In this case, two security guards, hired by the landlord, allegedly ignored warnings that a person on the property was threatening others with a gun at an outdoor gathering. The gunman shot and injured the plaintiff, who subsequently brought multiple claims against the landlord, the security company, and others, on theories of premises liability, negligence, breach of contract and vicarious liability. The MSC reasoned that landlords have a duty to expedite police involvement because the common law recognizes a special relationship between a landlord and its tenants and their invitees. This special relationship is predicated on the landlord's control over the common areas. Accordingly, a landlord has a duty to respond when put on notice of "a specific situation occurring on the premises that would cause a reasonable person to recognize a risk of imminent harm to an identifiable invitee." The MSC explained, however, that this duty is limited to areas that are within the landlord's control, and it does not extend to the tenants' leaseholds.

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