If my landlord let workers in and they stole our belongings, what can I do?

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If my landlord let workers in and they stole our belongings, what can I do?

He let workers in and out with a lock box, while we were staying at another place so he can make repairs. He didn’t tell us who he hired or anything. The workers stole about $2000 + worth of items and made us clean up the debris after 4 months of construction.

Asked on May 22, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the landlord for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable landlord would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).

In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty (of due care mentioned above), breach of duty (failure to exercise due care), actual cause, proximate cause, and damages.

Actual cause means but for the landlord not supervising the workers, would your property have been stolen?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening acts which would relieve the landlord of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit.  Your damages would be the value of the items that were stolen.

You can file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Your damages should include the value of the items that were stolen and court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.


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