Are Apartments Liable for Car Break-Ins Within Their Garage?

You’re scouting out apartments when you notice a scary trend — some properties have a crazy amount of reviews mentioning car break-ins and thefts! What gives? 

Whether you’ve experienced a car break-in yourself or are hesitant to pay for garage parking that doesn’t guarantee your vehicle’s safety, you should be well informed of what your property’s responsibility is when it comes to thefts that happen in the complex. 

What are properties’ responsibilities regarding tenant health & safety? 

Though property manager’s responsibilities vary from one county to another, one duty is pretty universal across rental properties in the US — “implied warranty of habitability.” According to, an implied warranty of habitability is a landlord or property manager’s legal obligation to maintain residential units up to “livable” standards. In cases when a severe maintenance issue, wear and tear, or a natural disaster compromise a property’s habitability, managers need to make prompt and diligent efforts to repair these to stay compliant.

If you’re wondering, ”Are landlords responsible for pest control in California”, the answer is yes. However, that isn’t the case in all states. Each state sets its own standards for what makes a residential dwelling livable. That means landlord responsibilities in South Carolina will vary from what your landlord is responsible for if you live in Texas. 

States determine properties’ responsibilities regarding tenant health and safety depending many factors, including the environment. For instance, in particularly hot states like Arizona, air conditioning is considered an “essential need.” On the other hand, in Maine, insufficient heat is viewed as a violation of the implied warranty of habitability. Landlords that fail to provide that for their tenants may be subject to penalties, fines, or even revocation of their rental registration. 

When your landlord fails to provide an essential need or violates habitability, you can invoke your tenant rights. Like with habitability, states designate their own tenant rights — so tenant rights in Kentucky will vary from the tenant rights in Alabama. 

Since “habitability” and tenant rights are defined differently on the local and state level, it can be challenging to know what is and isn’t your landlord’s responsibility. 

Typically, the expectation is that property managers employ safety measures that help prevent foreseeable crime regarding property theft and damage within the complex. 

Such actions can involve: 

  • fixing broken gates
  • periodically changing the complex’s access codes
  • installing cameras
  • having a courtesy patrol on-call

Habitability encompasses a variety of factors, and depending on where you live can dictate anything from safety measures to how often your landlord has to replace the carpet to whether or not your landlord has to provide a fire extinguisher.

Does this mean my landlord is liable for an on-premise car burglary? 

Your landlord has a duty to maintain a livable and safe property — which includes taking active measures to prevent foreseeable accidents and crime. However, most accidents and crimes come out of the left field. They’re “unforeseeable” by nature! Accordingly, unless you can prove that your property manager or landlord acted negligently, you won’t be able to hold them financially accountable for a car break-in or theft. 

Will my renter’s insurance cover car break-ins or theft? 

Renters insurance mainly protects you from two things: damage or theft of your personal property and liability from accidents and damage you may cause unto others or the residential unit itself.

Unfortunately, renters insurance won’t cover on-property car break-ins or theft (on the bright side, they typically help cover the costs of the items within your car!). How come? In most cases, renters insurance policies explicitly exclude vehicular damage and theft entirely. As far as protecting your vehicle goes, your best bet is to get comprehensive coverage, which essentially helps fix or replace your car when damages happen during a non-collision event like a fire, break-in, or hail.

How can I feel safe inside my apartment? 

Car break-ins, particularly consecutive ones, can make you feel unsafe in your apartment. And even though you’re only renting it temporarily, your apartment is your home — and you should feel safe in it! 

If your landlord isn’t taking proactive steps to deter theft and vandalism, consider moving to a safer neighborhood or an apartment with controlled access and a courtesy patrol once your lease ends. Use ApartmentSearch to help you find rental properties with security measures, or check out the Apartment Safety category in our blog for more resources!