What responsibility does our landlord haveif the apartment that we rent from him got burglarized?

We’ve been renters for over a year. When we moved in, we noticed that there was no deadbolt and 2 of the windows didn’t have window catches. Last week, the apartment was burglarized. The burglars apparently got in through 1 of the windows. They stole almost $6,500 worth of goods (a laptop, heirloom jewelry, etc.) We had asked our landlord to install window catches but he never did. Now we’ve put screws into the windows so they can’t be opened more than 2″ and the landlord has changed the locks. Is he responsible for not providing a secure place? Can he be taken to small claims?

Asked on September 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In California a landlord has an obligation to his or her tenants to provide a safe and habitable environment. Likewise, a landord is required to have a rental up to current code.

If you previously advisedyour landlord about safety concerns of the unit such as no dead bolt or window catches and the landlord failed to propmtly remedy the issues, he or she could be liable for your losses if there was prior knowledge by the landlord that the location of the rental was in an area pre-disposed to crime.

Hopefully you had renters insurance.

If not, you might discuss with your landlord your loss and see what accomodations if any he or she is willing to make to you.

Potentially you can take your landlord to small claims court for your losses. However, from what was written, you did not request the landlord to install the deadbolt or window catches before the burglary. This failure hurts any claims by you for negligence by the landlord to provide a secure living unit for you.

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