Special Report: Gated but not guarded

When you move into a gated apartment complex, you probably expect the gate to always work, since you're paying rent to live in a gated area.

Tenant and landlord attorney, Tyler Lester, says that's not always the case. "It’s a contractual relationship you have with your landlord and if the landlord holds itself out to have an electronic gate, then the gate should be working and the landlord does have an obligation to maintain the premises," said Lester. "If the gate were to break and the expense was really high, a court may decide that the landlord was required to fix the gate unless its shown that there was a really high risk of crime based on things that have happened there in the past."

Lester also says there's no law that obligates a landlord to maintain a security gate. "The landlord is not obligated to have the gate, but if you move in with the understanding that there's going to be a gate provided and the gate breaks and the landlord is not able to fix it, my belief would be that you could work with the landlord to transition out of the place and find another place. But I do think there is an assumption that if you move into an apartment complex that has a gate that the gate is going to function," said Lester.

Lester says bottom line, don't rely on the landlord or gate for that matter to protect you when you're looking for a place to live.

And if the landlord does nothing, Lester says some of your options are to go to city code enforcement, the problem oriented policing unit, or seek legal counsel through Central California Legal Services.

Lester says the best way to ensure your property is to get renters insurance.