Minimize Liability Risks from Shooting Sprees & Terrorism

More than 300 mass shootings have taken place in the U.S. since 2000. More often than not, these incidents take place on commercial property and lead to legal action against the landlords and tenants at the site.

While most commercial leases include provisions addressing building/property safety and security, these standard clauses tend to focus on traditional crimes like vandalism, theft, and small-scale assault rather than mass violence and terrorism. But you can limit your liability risks for mass shootings and acts of terrorism that occur on or directly affect your property, by implementing the right lease protections. For instance, your leases should:

1. Promise ‘Access Control,’ Not ‘Security’ Services. Promising to provide security may become a guarantee that you must live up to. Merely including the phrase “security services” in the lease may be enough to expose you to liability. Consequently, instead of “security,” promise to provide “access control” services.

2. List & Reserve Right to Modify Access Control Services. Define exactly what access control services encompass. Make sure tenants understand that the role of access personnel is limited and generally includes no more than preventing loitering, solicitation, and panhandling in common areas and maybe reporting perceived security problems on the tenant’s behalf to the police or other authorities during regular business hours. Also reserve the right to modify the listed services in your sole discretion upon giving the tenant proper notice.

3. List Building Safety Protocols. To further clarify tenants’ expectations, list (and require the tenant to cooperate with) your building safety protocols either within the lease or as an exhibit. Such protocols may include procedures for:

  • Building entry and sign-in;
  • Reporting security incidents; and
  • Emergency response and evacuation.

For seven more lease protections, along with a Model Lease Clause incorporating all 10 protections, see “Use Lease to Manage Liability & Financial Risks for Mass Shootings & Terrorist Attacks,” available to subscribers here.