Tenant Can't Be Shut Down for Lack of Security

May 25, 2009
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When the economy spirals down, crime tends to creep up. And, sometimes, no matter how hard a tenant may try to keep his premises safe from robbery, it can become a difficult task, even leading to a threatened shutdown of his premises.

That’s what happened in the city of Little Rock, Arkansas, when the city sought to declare a store a nuisance under Arkansas codes and ordered the store’s closing. The city had alleged that numerous criminal violations were occurring at a strip mall property, including multiple instances of loitering, public intoxication, possession of a weapon, and possession of a controlled substance. The city also alleged that three violent crimes had occurred, which included a murder and two batteries by gunshot.

A police detective testified that the store had not been involved either directly or indirectly with any of the shootings. And, the absence of any link supported the lack of involvement by the store. In fact, the evidence showed the store had taken extensive measures to curb the criminal activity at or near the strip mall property, including hiring security guards, installing flood lights and surveillance cameras, and building a fence to keep loiterers from going behind the building.

At a hearing, a circuit judge dismissed the city’s motion because Little Rock failed to establish a link of any kind between the crimes and any owner, agent or employee of any of the tenants and property owner, and failed to establish the store was a nuisance.

The city of Little Rock appealed on the grounds that the Arkansas Code applies to commercial properties, and not simply to drug houses, but the appeals court upheld the circuit court’s decision [City of Little Rock v. Jung Yul Rhee, Ashia Teriyaki, Fleishauer Family LLC, Kim C. Young, Sirrah, Inc., Jackson Hewitt, Charlie Bond, 12th Street Upholstery & Furniture, Mary Rollins, Mary’s Magic Curl Beauty Salon, Pic Pac Store, Inc., SUK Chang, E-Z Food Mart, Thuan Nguyen, Beauty Nails, Ru Jae, J’s Grill, Mae Ok Yi, Appellees, February 2009].