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My question is somewhat similar to Whole Bicycle Rack Easily Removed! Is the provider liable?, however, in this case, it was from my apartment's bike rack, which is managed.

I live in an apartment building that is managed by Meriton. We have access to a secure underground carpark, that is normally only accessible by swipe card. My road bike was locked up in one of the bike racks that are provided in this carpark.

This morning, I discovered that thieves have apparently unbolted the entire rack, and taken my bike (but left two other bikes on the rack there):

unbolted bike rack

I reported it to building management immediately, and apparently they're aware the racks are removable, and nothing was done to secure the bolts. My question is, is there anything I can do to hold the building management liable, based on their installation of the rack?

  • I'm guessing from the Meriton mention that you're in Australia? If so, good luck with Meriton, you'll need it. A quick search will show they're well used to lawsuits from dissatisfied residents. – Móż Sep 4 '14 at 2:13
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    Essentially this is a legal question "Someone stole something of mine is someone else responsible". The only thing that makes this cycle related is the something was a bike. – mattnz Sep 4 '14 at 2:36
  • I feel bad for you - I had a bike stolen that was locked-up outside my gym. It's a sickening feeling :( Depends where you are but if you are going to pursue then I'd video the area and make sure there are no "contents left at owner's risk" type signs as that could be a get-out for them. – adey_888 Sep 4 '14 at 3:06
  • At my gym my bike was ticketed for locking to the railing and not the bike rack. I told them the rack could be disassembled. Took them a year but they finally put in a valid rack. – paparazzo Sep 4 '14 at 11:46
  • @mattnz I raised a similar objection to another question once before. The consensus at the time was that bike thefts are a unique type of question and are on topic. In fact, much of the logic in that Meta thread applies to this question more than the one I initially asked about. However, I personally wouldn't object to revisiting the issue of legal questions in Meta. – jimchristie Sep 4 '14 at 13:28
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If you are insured make an insurance claim and they will follow up on any legal liability someone else might have, but you get a replacement bike quickly.

If you are not insured, you are in a lose/lose and maybe lose some more situation. You can accept that your bike got stolen and get on with life. Or you could sue a large property investment company and spend the next few years in a legal battle you cannot afford to lose digging a deep hole that is only getting deeper. Regardless of legal liability, the cost means they will laugh at you with the response "My pockets for legal fees are deeper than yours, see you in court and raise you costs". Given the risk they will win, and seek costs against you, they don't really care about how much they spend winning because you pull out - and when you do, they will seek costs anyway.

The only realistic option is ask nicely, or if your country has the concept of a small claims tribunal where you can bring a claim without paying lawyers.

As far as answering your question - apart from the fact that would be providing legal advise, its not answerable without seeing your contract and knowing what part of the world you live in.

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  • Also check with the manufacturer of your bike lock. Some locks come with theft insurance policies, and they may be willing to pay off even if the lock wasn't the failure point. – keshlam Sep 4 '14 at 2:49
  • @keshlam - The bike was locked with a Kryptonite lock that I bought directly from Kryptonite in the US. However, I believe their theft insurance only covers incidents in the US - that, and the bike lock didn't actually fail, so it'd be a bit slack to go after them. Still a good thought though, thanks. – victorhooi Sep 4 '14 at 3:09
  • Yeah, check your contract and whether this was advertised as "secure bike lock area" or similar. They might argue that it was just a metal bar you've chosen to lock your bike to; or that it was only provided as a convenient object to rest your bike against and not intended to be secure. Get close-up pictures of how the design is flawed and how the thieves got your bike from it. – adey_888 Sep 4 '14 at 3:09
  • @mattnz Thanks for your thoughts. I'm in Australia. The bike wasn't insured for theft (I normally only insure it for crashes during races/events) - it's normally locked either at work, or at my house. In this case, I had assumed a underground carpark at a managed building would be secure. I'm quite annoyed that the bike rack wasn't properly installed. I suppose it could be pursued via Small Claims. Unfortunately, we have a limit of $10,000 for Small Claims, the bike is just a touch over that, but I can still pursue but forfeit the difference. I was hoping to avoid legal action though. – victorhooi Sep 4 '14 at 3:13
  • The value of your bike, and the fact some (looking to be of reasonable value) were left behind will make it difficult to show the management was negligent - they can argue your bike was targeted due to its high value, and therefore there was nothing reasonable they could have done to prevent it. I suggest use the Small Claims (I have had good experience of Kiwi SC courts which I imagine is similar to yours) - but my guess is if you do not loose, you will get something like a 50/50 decision. – mattnz Sep 4 '14 at 3:22
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This answer largely duplicates my answer to a similar question:

The short answer is "No, it's likely that there is nothing you can do to hold building management liable for the theft of your bike."

I am neither a lawyer nor a resident of Australia where it seems this happened, so this longer answer is to the best of my layman's understanding and you should do some more research to make sure it applies.

The key legal issue is the lack of "Bailment". For a bailment to be created the property in question has to be delivered to the bailee (a representative of Building Management) by you (the bailor), and the bailee must have both possession and control of the property. Once a bailment has been created the bailee must take reasonable steps to care for the property that has been delivered but does not normally insure the bailor against all loss of or to the property while it is in the bailee's possession unless he expressly undertakes that obligation.

What this means is that the bailee is not liable for any and all damages or loss of the property while the property is in his care; he is only liable if the bailee can be proved negligent in caring for the property. Negligence can be proved if you can show that a reasonable person in possession and control of your property would not have taken whatever action led to the loss.

So, you rode up to a rack, chained up your bike and went your way. There was no transfer of possession or control from you to Building Management. The Building Management couldn't move your bike (at least not under normal situations) and no individual implied in any way that they would look after or protect it. Even if it was obvious to a reasonable individual that the rack was poorly installed or easily circumvented, the bailment was not created in the first place, so Building Management has no duty whatsoever to protect your bike from theft or loss.

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  • Unlike the other question, there are other statues to consider. If the contract with management committed to provide a secure car park, and it is not secure, they have breached a contractual obligation. If you suffer a loss because of the contract breach, you have a claim or Tort. – mattnz Sep 4 '14 at 20:52
  • I recognize that, and the link on Bailment in the answer touches on identifying whether there is a bailment or a contract in AU. Here in the US I store my bike in a "secure" garage, in a locked bike cage both of which are provided by my employer. That is still not enough to establish liability outside the existence of a contract because no representative of my employer has legal possession and control of my bike. – Gary.Ray Sep 4 '14 at 21:31

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