Can a landlord give exclusive use of common areas to one tenant over other tenants in an apartment complex? What are my rights?

Asked about 1 year ago - Manhattan Beach, CA

My neighbor has convinced my landlord to give him exclusive use of the common area outside of his apartment, a sidewalk,which includes a staircase that's used to go up and down a hillside between the two buildings in my complex. The first year I lived here, I used these stairs daily, and after the original owner died, my neighbor had the landlord (the son of the first landlord ) install a gate with a padlock on it, and refused access to the three tenants in my building,(including myself) while the two tenants in the lower front building were given keys and allowed to go up and down through the gate. Landlord won't give us keys either. I became disabled as a result of not being able to use the stairs, gave them a doctor's note asking to use the stairs and they both said no.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Edward Hall Cross

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    Answered . Have an experienced real estate lawyer carefully review the terms of your lease and photographs of the area in an effort to confirm that this area actually constitutes a "common area." if a judge can be convinced that the use of that area is a reasonably appurtenant to your unit, the landlord may be ordered to open it for you, and perhaps refund part of your rent. This is called "abatement of rent," and is used, for example, where a room within the leasehold becomes uninhabitable. The same principle may apply.

    These comments are for general informational purposes and do not create an attorney-client relationship. Do not... more
  2. Guy W Bluff

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    Answered . The distinction will be whether the stairs in question actually constitute "common areas" to which you would be entitled to use absent a specific exclusion in your lease or whether the stairs simply constitute "access" to one or more units and whether your apartment is one of those units. Was there a safety issue that you have not disclosed here that caused the landlord to install a locked gate?

    Attorney is Licensed in Arizona, California, and Colorado only. The opinions and comments offered are in the... more
  3. George Costas Andriotis

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    Answered . The terms of your Lease will dictate what areas you can use.

    Call for a free consultation at 727-937-1400 or visit us on the Web at www.serviceandjustice.com.

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