What is a landlord’s liabilty if the premises was left unsecured and a tenant was robbed?

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What is a landlord’s liabilty if the premises was left unsecured and a tenant was robbed?

My mom’s house was robbed while visiting family. When we came back, my mom found out that the robbers broke in through a doggy door she never knew about. My mom is renting this house through a leasing agency. The doggy doorwas not included on the lease. On the inside you couldn’t tell there was a doggy door because it was dry walled over the hole. The outside of the house in the back yard you could see a hole and easily break the drywall and that’s what the robbers did. My mom lost over $10,000 worth of things and wants to know if she has a good case to sue the leasing agency. It’s been over a week since the break in and the leasing agency still has not sent anyone to fix the hole in the wall.

Asked on September 7, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, unfortunately your mother does not seem to have a good case. The problem is, a landlord is only potentially liable if its security is negligent, or unreasonably careless; however, drywalling over a potential entry point is not unreasonably careless or negligent; it is a reasonable way to secure the entry, and posed no more vulnerability, for example, then a window, which could be broken as--if not more--easily than drywall. Therefore, based on what you write, the landlord would not be liable for this loss. However, if anyone gains access through the now-open hole in the wall, then since the landlord has notice of that obvious flaw, they could be liable for a subsequent loss.


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