Tenant lost garage door opener

Question from Susan updated on 28th October 2012:

Our tenant has contacted us to say the garage remote was taken from her unlocked car. The garage is unable to be secured at present although it does not have internal access to the house. The garage repairers are unlikely to be able to get another remote and reset it as it is an older type (it will require a whole new mechanism). Who is liable for the cost of the new remote and mechanism?

Our expert Juliet Robinson responded:

As the garage remote was lost when in your tenant’s care, she is probably responsible for its replacement. We are all responsible for the safekeeping of items entrusted to our care, and we are required to take reasonable steps to protect those items. If your tenant left her car unlocked it is arguable that she failed to exercise the required level of care in protecting the remote and is therefore liable for its replacement. You say the repairers are “unlikely” to be able to get another remote... have you established for certain whether that is the case? If another remote is obtainable, the problem is solved, at the tenant’s cost! The fact that the controller is outdated introduces a complication into the mix. Is the opener able to be operated without the remote? Does it have an alternative key-open feature? If the opener can’t operate at all without the missing remote, it may be sensible to consult your insurance company. A claim for the replacement remote (and possibly a new controller, if accepted,) may solve your problem. Your insurance company may then seek to recover the excess from the tenant and the balance from her insurance company (or from her in person if she doesn’t have adequate cover).

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