Is my landlord liable for losses due to a break-in of our apartment if he failed to have our windows safely secured?

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Is my landlord liable for losses due to a break-in of our apartment if he failed to have our windows safely secured?

A few weeks ago I had moved into an apartment and I was unaware and was not informed by the landlord that a window in the apartment was not properly secured. Because of this, my apartment was broken into while I was not home. The police came and stated that the window was not secured properly and that the conditions of it and the location of it put myself and my boyfriend in harm. He also stated that additional measures on the landlord’s part must be taken in order to prevent this from happening again. Is he liable for anything? He was negligent. 

Asked on June 24, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Utah

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

IF the landlord was negligent, then he may be liable. However, the fact that the police feel the window was not properly secured, while certainly in your favor, does not answer the question definitively as to the landlord's negligence. Negligence is, essentially, a failure to take the care that the hypothetical "reasonable person" in like situations would take. If your landlord took the same security measures that the average reasonable landlord in this area would take, he'd probably not be liable, even if there was more that he could have done. If he did less than the average landlord would or should, then he may be liable. So there may be liability here, but the police's opinion is not the end of the inquiry.


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