What to do if my landlord lost the master keys but didn’t inform me for 2 days?

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What to do if my landlord lost the master keys but didn’t inform me for 2 days?

I then left the apartment for the weekend. During this time, the landlord replaced all the apartment locks except mine. The landlord didnt attempt to contact me during this period and didnt change my locks claiming that he cannot enter my apartment without my permission. During this time, I was the only apartment that was robbed. There was no forced entry into the apartment confirmed by police, which is evidence that the master keys were used. Do I have a case that the landlord was grossly negligent and sue for the value of my stolen property?

Asked on September 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

From what you have written it appears that your landlord was negligent in not getting the locks to your apartment changed while other units had theirs changed. Under the laws of all states in this country, your landlord was entitled to leave a message for you that within 24 hours he or she would be replacing the locks to your apartment.

I would make a claim against your landlord for your loss.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You have a case, but it may be a weak one: while as you point out, the fact that the lock was not forced is evidence that the keys were used, it's not conclusive evidence--e.g. maybe you forgot to lock the door; maybe someone else whom you loaned the key to robbed you; etc. It is not a given that you could prove that the master keys were used. Second, depending on the circumstances, the landlord might not have been negligent in not changing your lock: e.g. if you have told him/her before to never enter when you are not there; or if the landlord knew you'd be a back shortly and deemed it better to wait for you, that might not be unreasonable. In short, it would likely be worthwhile to bring a, say, small claims case, but you can't assume you will necessarily win, since as the plaintiff (person bringing the case), you will need to prove both that the keys were more likely than not the mechanism used to enter your apartment and that under the circumstances, the landlord's actions were negligent, or unreasonably careless.


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