burglary damage costs

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    burglary damage costs

    During the Christmas break, my student tenants have been burglarized while they were away. There is no sign of forced entry into the property, so it seems that one of the tenants had left a window open through which the burglars have entered the house.

    I believe that absence of forced entry is stated on the police report, although I have not seen it (I am abroad at the moment). The students themselves suggested to me that a window had probably been left open.

    Several internal doors have been kicked in and damaged. These are fire doors and need to be repaired or replaced.

    Who is responsible for these repairs?

    This damage is not covered by any insurance, so it will have to be either me (landlord) or them (tenants) - or both in some proportion.

    The Tenancy Agreement explicitly states that the tenants have to properly secure all locks and bolts to the doors, windows and other openings when leaving the property unattended.

    I have a good relationship with the tenants and want to be reasonable, but this is probably a significant expense and I would like to know where we all stand on this from a legal point of view.

    You are responsible for the repairs.
    The issue is who pays for them.

    The damage occurred while the tenants were in control of the property and is their liabiity (adjusted, though, see below).

    Don't go down the path of who left a window open or who is "responsible" for the break in - it's academic.
    The tenants were in control of the property and they have to compensate you for the loss as a consequence - just the same as if someone threw a brick through the window - it's not about blame it's about liability.

    You have to adjust your claim to ensure you don't benefit unfairly (as you'll be getting a benefit from the doors long after the tenants have gone).
    The simplest way is to take the cost of the damaged doors and estimate how much use of them you've lost.
    So if the doors were fitted 12 years ago, and you'd expect them to last (say) 20 years, your claim is for 8/12ths the cost of the doors (i.e. what you've lost).
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


      Thanks for your reply, jpkeats.

      I tend to agree with your view, but reading around there seems to be consensus that burglary damages are to be treated similarly to a natural event (say flooding) and as such the costs should be covered by the landlord rather than the tenants.

      If one accepts this view, the fact that the tenants left a window open (in breach of contract conditions) could tilt things toward negligence and therefore shift the financial burden in their direction.


        The burglary was not a natural event as it was precipitated by the tenants leaving the window open. In any case, there has been no break-in so as far as you are concerned, the property has damage caused by the negligence of the tenants. You are not really interested in whether it was a burglar or an end of term party that got out of control, (which is possible by the way).


          Why no insurance?

          It's your responsibility to ensure that internal doors meet fire regulations, and your responsibility to repair them. You can argue about whether you can recover the cost from the tenants when it comes to returning their deposit.


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