Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Georgia

Early Lease Termination due to burglary

My apartment was burglarlized. The leasing manager and on call maintenance man were very rude. 1.slow response time to my emergency by the on call maintenance man (4 hrs)2. the window wasn't properly secured 3. the leasing manager didn't have any procedures in place to handle this type of situation 4. I sent a complaint to the management company and received and unacceptable response 5. cost for cleaning the carpet. I send a follow up letter to the owners of the apartment complex on 10/13/05 and the owners haven't respond to my letter, which I was requesting early termination of my lease with the liquidating damages waived. because with all that transpired: poor customer service, false advertisement and the burglary, I can not live in my apartment any longer. Now what do I do. I gave the apartment complex my 30 days notice and the manager is asking for the liquidated damages.

Asked on 12/21/05, 9:16 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Scott Riddle Law Office of Scott B. Riddle, LLC
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Re: Early Lease Termination due to burglary

If the landlord sticks to his guns, you have a tough case and will need to show more. Landlords are generally not responsible for such things as burglaries or other crimes committed by others(unless, of course, they or an employee participated). The maintenance man is not an emergency responder (ie, police), and presumably could not have stopped the burglary. I am not sure what the maintenance emergency was after the burglary, aside from making sure the window was secured again(you don't mention how the window was not secure). As for the window, the landlord needs to provide you with a window in good working order, with a lock, but otherwise, you need to make sure your windows are secured. Had you previously notified the landlord of a defect in the window and they had not acted promptly? The other comments, such as poor customer service, rude, "unacceptable responses," false advertising, etc., really don't mean much in this context without much, much more. The bottom line is that the management is not generally responsible for the burglary, and if they came in and repaired the window to good working order and put you back where you were prior to the incident (with respect to the apartment - not your personal property), you have a weak argument.

I note that you have apparently been there more than 2 months after the incident and your only complaints are about how something was handled back then. If this is all there is, you are well served by working with the landlord to make sure the repairs are satisfactory, the windows and locks are in good working order, and you get past this incident. Money you would pay to a lawyer can be used for rent and to replace your property, as your future credit standing and possible lawsuits against you really are at risk if you do not work it out.

Of course, if there is a REAL risk to your safety (such as several recent unsolved crimes at the complex - not just an isolated burglary 3 months ago), you may need to move because your safety is most important than any fee you have to pay.

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12/21/05, 9:50 am

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