Locks/lights defective- so landlord negligent if burglary?

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  • Locks/lights defective- so landlord negligent if burglary?

    Hi, I'm a tenant and I was burgled, and I think I have a may have a case for negligence against my landlord. What do you think-

    1. The Security light by the door (it goes on when people move near it) broke and they agreed repreatedly to fix it for over a month before the burglery, several times specifying dates, and nothing ever happened and it was not fixed. The burglery occured when it was dark in the evening.

    2. The lock on the door, according to two different police officers, was extremely feeble and easy to slip- not something I could complain about though as it would be unreasonable for a tenant to have a specialist knowledge of locks.

    Any case here do you think? I think that the repeated failure to fix broken security features after multiple reminders in a long timeframe ought to count, but whether it does in practice or not I'm not sure.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Bluke View Post
    Hi, I'm a tenant and I was burgled, and I think I have a may have a case for negligence against my landlord. What do you think-

    1. The Security light by the door (it goes on when people move near it) broke and they agreed repreatedly to fix it for over a month before the burglery, several times specifying dates, and nothing ever happened and it was not fixed. The burglery occured when it was dark in the evening.

    2. The lock on the door, according to two different police officers, was extremely feeble and easy to slip- not something I could complain about though as it would be unreasonable for a tenant to have a specialist knowledge of locks.

    Any case here do you think? I think that the repeated failure to fix broken security features after multiple reminders in a long timeframe ought to count, but whether it does in practice or not I'm not sure.
    Do you have insurance for content? Why not let the insurance company sort it out.

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    • #3
      Is it a security light, or a door courtesy light? Either way I doubt it would stop a burglar if it was working, might even make breaking in easier. It’s also debatable whether the standard of the lock would make much of a difference.
      I also post as Moderator2 when moderating

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Bluke View Post
        Any case here do you think?

        No. There is only one person responsible for the burglary - the burglar.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
          No. There is only one person responsible for the burglary - the burglar.
          The problem is convincing him of that.
          'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
            The problem is convincing him of that.
            Or convicting him of that.
            JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
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            • #7
              I agree it would have been good for your landlord to have fixed the light sooner. Write to your landlord, inform him that the light must be fixed quickly and if it is not fixed say within one week, you will obtain the necessary parts and deduct the cost from the rent.

              You can't blame the landlord for "inviting" a burglary. Millions of people in this country don't have any security lights on their properties. Did you know many villages without street lights have the lowest reported crime?

              What the Police told you about the lock is guesswork.

              Were you home at the time of the burglary? Have you bought contents insurance for your belongings? (Hope so.)

              Burglars break in or attempt to break in to many properties unfortunately. You'd be living in some sort of fantasy land if you think security lights alone stop them trying.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                No. There is only one person responsible for the burglary - the burglar.
                I disagree. OP's case is weak, but arguable and therefore it's worth a punt.

                - There is authority for the view that a person who leaves a property in an insecure state is liable in negligence for the loss occasioned by a burglary. I haven't the time to look up the case, but it involved a gardener leaving a house unlocked.

                - If the LL is held to be obliged to keep the security light in repair, then he may be liable.

                - However, OP will probably have big problems with causation. It appears that the cause of the burglary was probably the poor quality lock rather than the failure of the light. The LL will not be liable for the lock, bceause whilst it was poor quality, it seems that it was in repair at the time of the loss.

                - If OP succeeds, the LL and the burglar would be joint and several tortfeasors (LL in negligence, burglar in trespass to land, goods and, also, conversion); if he's ever caught, the LL could recover contribution from the burglar.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by agent46 View Post
                  - If OP succeeds, the LL and the burglar would be joint and several tortfeasors (LL in negligence, burglar in trespass to land, goods and, also, conversion); if he's ever caught, the LL could recover contribution from the burglar.
                  I can just imagine the burglar in his stripey jumper, slipping LL a tenner from the dock, and saying 'There's my contribution, guv. Buy yerself something nice, mate'.
                  'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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                  • #10
                    Thanks for your help guys.

                    I agree that the lock is not really an issue in a legal sense. Yes, it's bad but it is still a working lock. So the issue remains the security light.

                    While I appreciate that the security light is probably not the first line of defence against a burgler, it is still a security feature that came with the property that I rented and that they did not fix within a long timeframe after multiple reminders. My front door is close to several others in a place with no lighting, and had a bright light been shining on the burgler while they vandalised the lock that might have stopped them- not definately, but there is still a chance. That's why the light's there, after all.

                    If landlords were not liable for any broken security features which they refused or failed to fix then that would obviously be silly. So the question here is really whether this security light counts as an important component of the property's security. I think it's arguable that it is.

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                    • #11
                      I had a property I manage burgled a couple of weeks ago. It had a newly fitted security light fitted pretty high up above the front door with a movement sensor. The burglars smashed it. It also had a metal security gate over the front door. The burglars got it off. They wrenched the lock off somehow with mole grips or similar and then kicked down the UPVC door. Tenant came home to find most of the UPVC door the other end of the living room.

                      I had a security light fitted on this property for a reason and it was as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

                      I thought the security was pretty good before. I now have anti break locks, my specification to door company was that I want the best door that can't be kicked in (!!) and the security gate has been welded beyond belief. Stuff the security light

                      Burglaries happen. I've been burgled myself whilst asleep in bed in my own home. It isn't nice but it happens. There isn't usually anyone to blame other than the burglar! of course there are measures that can be taken to reduce the chance of being burgled.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bunny View Post
                        I had a property I manage burgled a couple of weeks ago. It had a newly fitted security light fitted pretty high up above the front door with a movement sensor. The burglars smashed it. It also had a metal security gate over the front door. The burglars got it off. They wrenched the lock off somehow with mole grips or similar and then kicked down the UPVC door. Tenant came home to find most of the UPVC door the other end of the living room.

                        I had a security light fitted on this property for a reason and it was as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

                        I thought the security was pretty good before. I now have anti break locks, my specification to door company was that I want the best door that can't be kicked in (!!) and the security gate has been welded beyond belief. Stuff the security light

                        Burglaries happen. I've been burgled myself whilst asleep in bed in my own home. It isn't nice but it happens. There isn't usually anyone to blame other than the burglar! of course there are measures that can be taken to reduce the chance of being burgled.
                        I agree. You just have to hope you get stupid burglars, rather than clever ones.

                        When we were burgled, they made off with lots of CD boxes (many of them empty), an empty laptop case, a watch which didn't work, a briefcase full of not very good essays about 'Hamlet' and a bottle of milk. They opened my daughter's flute case (the flute was by far the most expensive thing they could have taken, but didn't), but discarded the flute and its case on the sofa, so fortunately it wasn't damaged. They did take the car keys (to a Nissan Micra with ignition too smart for them), gave up trying to start it, but turned up at the local Nissan dealer the day after, asking how to do it. Fortunately, we had been there too that morning, to get the locks re-programmed (police had advised robbers might come back for the vehicle)...dealer was able to provide a full description which led to an arrest.
                        'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
                          ...which led to an arrest.
                          Who says out policemen are not wonderful?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                            Who says out policemen are not wonderful?
                            Out of what?!
                            'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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                            • #15
                              MTG, you bought back memories, burglars can be very stupid!

                              I've been burgled a few times in my life, well 3 times, all in different properties, twice when I was a student, once as a homeowner.

                              As a student, returned home from a drunken end of term night out. Didn't notice the back door kicked in or the microwave missing having walked through the kitchen, staggered up the stairs, passed the odd random shoe, a few study books on the stairs etc. Got to the bedroom, sat on the bed and thought the room looked odd - the oddness was that my packed bags ready to go home, TV, stereo etc were gone and the shoe and books were bits they dropped on the way. The good news, whilst back home the police called to say they had caught the burglars and I got everything (almost) back. All covered in silver finger print dust!

                              When I was burgled in my current home, they got through the kitchen window, pushed the sofa against the lounge door, found my house keys (I never leave them downstairs now), let themselves out the patio doors with my keys and took the stereo, handbag (which contained my WORLD), mobile phone etc etc.

                              Here's the funny bit, they stole two boxes of chocolates I'd been given for my birthday, left the entire CD collection, the DVD player etc, they got away with both/my only sets of car keys to a brand new car, left the car on the drive and took their goodies away in MY wheelie bin which they emptied into MY garden beforehand. I never heard a thing. Had to have all the locks changed on the car etc.


                              So pleased to hear stories where the perpetrators are caught

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