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  1. #1
    JonnyOctagon is offline Junior Member
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    Vehicle vandalised in "gated" parking of apartment complex

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?
    California

    I recently moved into a new apartment complex. The complex was advertised as having gated parking but a few weeks ago there was an auto accident and someone ran into the gate completely taking it out. Since then the gate has not been fixed..

    Last night my car was broken in to while parked in the supposed-to-be gated parking lot and some items were stolen (totalling ~$600, and probably ~$300 to have the window fixed).

    Is the owner of the apartment complex liable?

    Thanks.
  2. #2
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyOctagon View Post

    Is the owner of the apartment complex liable?

    Thanks.
    Probably not, unless they have agreed to protect your car. Check your lease for specific terms.
  3. #3
    Cvillecpm is offline Senior Member
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    No - it is why you have auto insurance. A "gated" community is no reassurance that it is crime free.

    "Valuables" should not be left in vehicles in plain sight...lock them in the trunk OR take them with you
  4. #4
    subway is offline Member
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    from

    [url=http://www.caltenantlaw.com/ResLaw.htm#Landlord%20liability]California Tenant Law - Non-profit legal advice for California renters' rights[/url]


    Landlord liability for criminal acts of others

    Even if the landlord is not insured for it, the landlord can still be sued and held liable for crimes
    committed in the apartment complex, such as thefts from the cars, where the landlord has been
    negligent, such as failing to fix the garage security gate. They often claim they are not liable, but that is a bluff. Also, if the conduct in question was that of the resident manager or other employee hired by the landlord, the landlord is personally responsible to you as though he had done the act. Crime is a habitability issue, under the contract, not just negligence.

    They may also appear to deny liability because their insurance "doesn't cover that". That's their problem: they can't avoid liability by avoiding insurance. If that worked, nobody would buy insurance. Moreover, the fact that you did not have "renter's insurance" is no excuse for their neglect, nor does it reduce your recovery. See a lawyer about your theft, for the details in your particular case.

    You already said that the gate was damaged a few weeks ago. That strengthens your position
    Last edited by subway; 02-26-2009 at 01:30 PM.
  5. #5
    Cvillecpm is offline Senior Member
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    Exclamation

    Sub - there is no MENTION from OP that that there is a HISTORY of crimes at the property OR that the landlord is doing nothing.....BOTH would have to be present for your comment to be relevent.

    In any event, there is the theory of contributory negligence - the OP CONTRIBUTED to the theft by NEGLIGENTLY leaving valuables visible in his car....
  6. #6
    subway is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cvillecpm View Post
    Sub - there is no MENTION from OP that that there is a HISTORY of crimes at the property OR that the landlord is doing nothing.....BOTH would have to be present for your comment to be relevent.

    In any event, there is the theory of contributory negligence - the OP CONTRIBUTED to the theft by NEGLIGENTLY leaving valuables visible in his car....
    It is a matter of how a judge will consider the period of few weeks having the gate left unsecure. Doing something , does not mean you avoid negligence

    As to the theory , there is also another theory which says that if both parties contribute, just the fact that one contributes to some degree, it does not free the other from liability. The burglar obviously was not able to see the Cds inside the car before entering inside the parking area in the first place
  7. #7
    Cvillecpm is offline Senior Member
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    Then OP offered an ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE by leaving the CDs in open view...
  8. #8
    Alaska landlord is offline Senior Member
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    OP has no proof that someone outside of the community committed the vandalism of his vehicle. I even doubt that management advertised the gates as a security feature. It is likely that it was advertised as restrictive access and nothing more. I have video surveillance in my common areas but I am also quick to point out that this is not to be construed as a security system. It may just be that the feature of security is just perceived security on OP's part but not a claim by management.
  9. #9
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyOctagon View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?
    California

    I recently moved into a new apartment complex. The complex was advertised as having gated parking but a few weeks ago there was an auto accident and someone ran into the gate completely taking it out. Since then the gate has not been fixed..

    Last night my car was broken in to while parked in the supposed-to-be gated parking lot and some items were stolen (totalling ~$600, and probably ~$300 to have the window fixed).

    Is the owner of the apartment complex liable?

    Thanks.

    Our OP has known for at least "a few weeks" that the gate was not functioning...
  10. #10
    JonnyOctagon is offline Junior Member
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    Actually there was nothing in view.. The only thing that was stolen of any real value was my ipod (which was a 32GB ipod touch ($400 retail) which was under the driver seat..

    As to the gated parking being advertised as a security feature, the manager actually made the comment to me before moving in that "there is gated parking, so your car won't get broken into or stolen or anything"...
  11. #11
    Cvillecpm is offline Senior Member
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    Manager stating an opinion is just that.....a small ipod should have been on YOU or in YOUR APARTMENT
  12. #12
    tranquility is offline Senior Member
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    Come on people. Let the newbie play--especially when he's right. In the first post subway accurately gave the California law for premesis liability. True, he didn't apply the facts to the law, but that's because he's new.

    As to some other things:
    contributory negligence
    I don't think there is any negligence on the part of the OP here. One does not have a duty to hide valuables in a locked vehicle that I'm aware of. Nor does he have a duty to make sure valuables are absent from the vehicle, displayed or not. (Absent specific contractual or implied contractual issues not in our facts.) Also, California is a comparative negligence state, not a contributory negligence one.

    Then OP offered an ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE by leaving the CDs in open view...
    No. This is a wholly inaccurate statement of law for our facts. Attractive nuisance simply does not apply here. In the first instance, the people who are intended to be protected are not the ones hurt here and two, the none of the elements of it are here in any way.

    Our OP has known for at least "a few weeks" that the gate was not functioning...
    Maybe an assumption of the risk. Maybe. I don't think the element of the specific known danger knowingly dismissed is here, but, maybe.

    I would have said the landlord didn't have a duty under the law because we don't have the facts of the history of a specific crime which may give rise to a duty. However, we may have a contractual duty with:
    As to the gated parking being advertised as a security feature, the manager actually made the comment to me before moving in that "there is gated parking, so your car won't get broken into or stolen or anything"...
    Now, proof is going to be hard. Only a manager who wants to be out of a job will admit he said this and I don't think the OP will be able to prove it. But, if he did, I think this is an explicit promise. We could argue the point in court, but if I could prove it up I'd certainly take it to court.

    Manager stating an opinion is just that.....a small ipod should have been on YOU or in YOUR APARTMENT
    No. A *manager* is the agent of the landlord. Even if his actual authority was limited in some way, absent some specific clause in the rental agreement a manager has apparent authority to speak for the landlord. It's not just an opinion.

    Finally, I know of no case where a person has a legal duty to remove valuables from a locked vehicle or they lose the rights to sue for their loss. Would a reasonable person leave an IPOD in their car? If not, the world is full of unreasonable people. Legally unreasonable.
    Last edited by tranquility; 02-26-2009 at 05:38 PM.
  13. #13
    subway is offline Member
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    OP has no proof that someone outside of the community committed the vandalism of his vehicle
    As a "newbe" , i think this irrelevant.

    In this case preponderance of the evidence is enough. It is a matter of what will be considered more likely to be true. In the absence of some historical background which can raise doubts about other tenants, i doubt a judge will decide that it is more likely to have the burglar be an insider rather than an outsider.
  14. #14
    Alaska landlord is offline Senior Member
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    As a newbie, you would.

    The fact is that nobody knows the historical facts except for management and the police. Gated communities only give the illusion of being free of crime. The reality is that since the tenants pool is derived from the "outside" the crime level is only a low as the residents and management permit it to be.
  15. #15
    subway is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska landlord View Post
    As a newbie, you would.

    The fact is that nobody knows the historical facts except for management and the police. Gated communities only give the illusion of being free of crime. The reality is that since the tenants pool is derived from the "outside" the crime level is only a low as the residents and management permit it to be.

    If the management had knowledge relative to criminal activities, the tenant should have been informed. I still do not see how your observation changes what i am saying.
    First of all the background check does not make the tenant pool "as bad" as the outsiders , in addition there might be other issues .
    For example it will be atypical for a member of a gated community paying a mid level rent to go after some Cds inside a locked car.
    But even if none of the above are present, it is still more likely to have the burglary coming from outside than inside.

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