Need advice on how to handle a communal front door being locked from the inside

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    Need advice on how to handle a communal front door being locked from the inside

    Hi all,

    Im looking for some advice on how to handle a situation i have found myself in.

    Q1 – Where is the rented property located (England)?

    Q2 – What type of Tenancy Agreement (TA) is this ? sole tenant in multi tenant building?

    Q3 – What date did current TA start october 19

    Q4 – How long was initial fixed term (24 months)?

    Q5 – Does the TA state that rent is due weekly? / 4-weekly? / per calendar month (pcm 1st.)?


    Q8 – Does the landlord live in the same property as the tenant?no

    I rent a flat in a building with 4 other flats, we share a communal front door. One evening i have come home around 6:30 pm to find my key will not open the lock on the communal front door, i ring the bell, knock and shout through the letter box but no answer. 10 mins or so later my girlfriend turns up, she also has a key so we try hers but no joy. We ring the letting agent who manages our flat who direct us to their out of hours service who tell us to ring a locksmith, they even give us a number. They advise we have to pay upfront and will get the money back.

    The lock smith arrives, tried to open the door with a pole through the letter box but no joy and has to drill out the lock. 2 hours later the new lock is on and we are £200 down, as we go upstairs we find someone was home all this time and the lock smith confirms the latch had been put on the lock (i know its stupid to have a lock like this on a communal door).

    Time passes and i get told the building managers will not be reimbursing me for this payment because they did not order it.... they where closed at the time of the incident. When i spoke to them and asked what should i have done at the time they couldn't tell me and instead believe if the lock breaks on the communal front door and they are closed we would have to pay for it ourselves anyway. This doesnt seem right to me so would like some views on that to?




    Im not a bit lost as to where to turn, ive just spoken to the letting agent again and they will look into it again but would anyone here have any advice or any knowledge on what should happen here?

    Thanks
    Last edited by smitha; 27-01-2020, 16:16 PM. Reason: edit to answer the basic info

    #2
    The first point is that you are correct that the lock isn't appropriate for a shared entrance and needed to be replaced anyway.
    It's not stupid, it's negligent.

    If the agent confirmed before you called the locksmith that you would get your money back, they've agreed that on behalf of the landlord and the landlord can't renege on their promise - I'd imagine that the building managers aren't the landlord.

    Whether that's any practical help I'm not sure.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for coming back to me. With regards to the lock, its the same type of lock still - is there any legal basis that requires the building managers to install an appropriate lock e.g. one that cant but locked from the inside to stop anyone with a key opening it.

      As it was over the phone we where told to call the locksmith and it would be reimbursed is it not a case of my word against theres?

      Comment


        #4
        There's no law about locks specifically.

        But you have a right to access your property and, if someone prevents that or allows it to happen, it can be a criminal offence, so your landlord should be making damn sure that the building is appropriately set up.
        It's your landlord you should be claiming from BTW.

        And it's a common sense thing. A communal access that can be locked by one person so that no one else can enter is just stupid.

        And yes, it's your word against theirs - but not everyone is prepared to lie to cover for someone else, even letting agents. Your best point is that you wouldn't have called the locksmith if you hadn't been promised that the cost would be re-imbursed - the landlord is liable for making sure you can access the property, not you.
        If the problem had been caused by you, they could reasonably have claimed the cost from you anyway (which would sensibly have been done by not reimbursing you), but it clearly can't have been your fault in this case.

        The management company are a bit of a red herring, their opinion is academic, because the person responsible is the landlord.
        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

        Comment


          #5
          Ok thanks a lot for your help. I will push the letting agents/landlord on this.

          Regarding the landlord making sure we can access the property, given its a communal front door and they don't own it do you think it would fall to the building managers to maintain the door and maintain the ability for all residents to access their properties?

          Comment


            #6
            While that's the practicality of it, that's the landlord's problem.
            If he/she want's to let their flat, they need to make sure the communal access is functioning.

            Don't let the agent, landlord or management company shuffle the issue between them.
            You rent from the landlord, the agent works for the landlord and the building management company are nothing to do with you at all.
            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

            Comment


              #7
              So ill push on the landlord / letting agents. Do you know if i have any type of right to deduct the amount im out of pocket from my rent if they take to long to pay me back?

              Comment


                #8
                From a 100% legal point of view, no you can't deduct it from the rent - there's no right to offset without the other parties agreement.

                From a practical point of view, I'd be pretty tempted to take that pragmatic approach, but the landlord could deduct it from your deposit or get hacked off and serve notice.
                When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                Comment


                  #9
                  ok thanks for all your help!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I'm not a solicitor but I would say the Managing Agents (if they are present), were liable. What an earth would happen if there was a fire, dense smoke, and occupants had to fumble with the lock in an emergency?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I would say the presence of the latch might even be a criminal offence. Such doors need to be openable, from the inside, with a single action, and the fire risk assessment should have pointed that out.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Me, I would send a bill to the person who locked you out ( i assume you know who it was ) and you have a witness to the event as well.
                        The letting agent should inform your landlord, who in turn contacts the managing company , freeholder or managing agent , ( not the letting agent ) and state the problem.
                        Expect to to take 2 to 3 months to be finalised.
                        The Managing company / freeholder for the block ( not the letting agent ) should change the lock to a none internal locking one,.
                        I have in the past dismantled the bulbous inside part and removed the click / locking slider, so no one can lock it from inside.

                        If all parties refuse to pay you back, or even next week --- remove the lock, as it's yours, stating the lock ( not the key part ) must have been faulty, and was replaced by you, but as no one will reimburse you, you are taking the lock back, and someone else can replace the faulty lock.

                        You have a faulty lock that allows you to be locked out -- that IS A FAULT, so state that next time ( assuming this new lock can be locked from inside again,) state your landlord will be billed for a nights B+B if you are locked out again.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by ram View Post
                          Me, I would send a bill to the person who locked you out ( i assume you know who it was ) and you have a witness to the event as well.
                          The letting agent should inform your landlord, who in turn contacts the managing company , freeholder or managing agent , ( not the letting agent ) and state the problem.
                          Expect to to take 2 to 3 months to be finalised.
                          The Managing company / freeholder for the block ( not the letting agent ) should change the lock to a none internal locking one,.
                          I have in the past dismantled the bulbous inside part and removed the click / locking slider, so no one can lock it from inside.

                          If all parties refuse to pay you back, or even next week --- remove the lock, as it's yours, stating the lock ( not the key part ) must have been faulty, and was replaced by you, but as no one will reimburse you, you are taking the lock back, and someone else can replace the faulty lock.

                          You have a faulty lock that allows you to be locked out -- that IS A FAULT, so state that next time ( assuming this new lock can be locked from inside again,) state your landlord will be billed for a nights B+B if you are locked out again.

                          Thanks ram.
                          We did think of this but 1) didnt want to cause tension and 2) didn't believe it to be our place to chase refunds from other tennants/lease holders.

                          I think the steps you mentioned have been followed but the managing company said they wont pay as they where not told (the only open office hours, i tried to ask them what should happen if the lock breaks while out of office hours and was told we would have to pay for this ourselves) As we have no contract with the managing company it does seem reasonable we should be reimbursed by the landlord and they take it up with the management company.

                          With regards to the lock having that internal locking should i point this out to my letting agent so they can bring it up with the management company? When speaking to the management company i did mention that at this point i own the lock on the front door but they gave me some spiel about section whatever violation if i remove it, i still have the old lock that was drilled out so could put that back i suppose but seems like a pointless endeavour.

                          Would be interested to know what the legal issues are around this lock.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Leaseholder64 is someone in who's knowledge I would trust.
                            If he says the lock should be openable with a single action, which this clearly wouldn't have been, I'd suggest that that be passed on to the landlord via the agent.
                            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                            Comment

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