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Law Offices of Mark Schaffner Obtains Big Win for Injured Tenants

Sept. 15, 2022

The settled law in Illinois has been that landlords owe no duty to protect tenants from criminal assault.  In an appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, attorney Mark Schaffner successfully sought an exception to this rule when the tenant rents a room but must share common amenities with other tenants.  In this case, Pan v. King, 2022 IL App (1st) 211482, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that since tenants in a “rooming house” have no control of the shared premises beyond their sleeping room, the landlord may be liable for criminal assault, provided they have some basis of foreseeing that a criminal assault is likely or possible.  

In Pan, our client was assaulted by another roomer who wielded a knife, causing severe and deforming injuries to Mr. Pan.  Roomers had complained to the landlord about the assaulter’s behavior, but she took no apparent action in response.  No background check or inquiry was made by the landlord before renting to the assaulter. 

This ruling has created new law in Illinois, giving tenants in rooming houses some degree of protection from potential physical assault and giving landlords of such facilities an incentive to take greater caution in the operation of their facilities.  This is a significant step, particularly in this era of increased housing costs where more and more people are seeking cheaper and alternative living arrangements, to giving some degree of security to tenants.