2 tenants, but only 1 set of keys

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    2 tenants, but only 1 set of keys

    Would be grateful for some info regarding landlord/tenant obligations. We want to resolve a dispute with an aggressive ex-landlord.

    We are a couple who have reached the end of a joint, three-month rental agreement on a shared house with a resident LL.


    1. Is the landlord legally required to supply us both with a set of keys?
    (LL gave us one set of keys to share.)

    2. Have we broken the law by getting an extra set of keys cut without his prior permission?
    (We felt it was necessary - other tenant was locking the main door putting us at risk of being trapped inside. Also, my partner was having to stay elsewhere while waiting for me to finish work when I had possession of the keys. Invalidation of insurance also a concern if one of us were unable to lock up.)

    3. Are we legally required to return the keys - that we paid for - to him without reimbursement?
    (I thought being provided with one set of keys as per inventory means we're obliged to return one set. I'm also reluctant to reward him with a free set of keys following his continual failure to rectify defects with the property that could have affected our health. Also, having him scream "You are a p***k!" in my face doesn't bring out the co-operative side of my nature either.)


    To my knowledge, there were no clauses regarding extra keys in the tenancy agreement - I can't double check this though as he didn't provide us with a copy of the TA after we signed it - he said it was our responsibility to get it copied before giving it back to him. We paid rent weekly, and a rent book was also never supplied.

    There are no outstanding rent payments and the place is in a better condition than when we arrived, and we even managed to save him £50pm on his bills. (Those savings are going straight into his pocket of course, and are not being passed on to the tenants!)

    Thanks.

    #2
    Originally posted by FivetreasureII View Post
    Is the landlord legally required to supply us both with a set of keys?
    I doubt there's any law specifying precisely this, but any sane person would realise that's a must to have a key each, when there are tenants coming and going separately.

    Have we broken the law by getting an extra set of keys cut without his prior permission?
    Certainly no law, but you'd have broken the tenancy agreement if it forbids getting new keys cut. But what is the LL going to do about it? I can't see for a second that any judge would rule that you've done anything wrong under the circumstances you describe.

    Are we legally required to return the keys - that we paid for - to him without reimbursement
    Well now it's getting a bit petty - how many pence did it cost to have them cut?!! But if you hang on to them there may be a bit of an issue, as the LL knows that there are spare keys floating around. Nothing to stop him changing the locks though, which will cost him more than paying for your set!

    One option would be to damage your new keys irretrievably before returning them - at least then you would have the satisfaction of knowing he can't benefit from them!

    Comment


      #3
      FivetreasureII: bear in mind that you are not really a tenant and that a resident L does not really grant a Tenancy Agreement. None of the Housing Act 1988 applies, as a result.
      JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
      1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
      2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
      3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
      4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
        FivetreasureII: bear in mind that you are not really a tenant and that a resident L does not really grant a Tenancy Agreement. None of the Housing Act 1988 applies, as a result.
        We both signed an AST tenancy agreement for a flat, if that makes any difference. (Although were never provided with a TA copy or rent book.)

        Comment


          #5
          No. A resident L cannot create an AST, by definiton. This is explicitly stated in paragraph 10 of Schedule 1 to the Housing Act 1988.
          On the other hand, the Agreement is still binding on an ordinary common-law contractual basis.
          No rent book is needed unless rent is due weekly: see s.4 of LTA 1985.
          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

          Comment


            #6
            As a matter of routine, I always change locks to both back and front doors when a tenancy ends. This is both to prevent re-entry by the outgoing tenant or worse still one of the keys landing in the possession of someone else who coulod thieve from the house and secondly to protect the incoming tenant against the above and also protect the outgoing tenant against allegations of re-entry whilst the new tenant is in situ.

            All my properties have upvc doors which have the same type of lock - I merely have a couple of the barrels spare together with keys x 3 to fit (2 to tenant for each door and 1 retained by me), thus only I know which barrel is fitted to which property.

            Should a tenant replace a lock, then when they leave, that too will go into stock for re-use - I do tell the tenants that I keep spare keys and that I keep these somewhere very safe and only I have access to them - all seem happy with this.

            Comment


              #7
              That seems like a complete waste of money. I've never changed locks between tenancies in over 10 years and never ever had a problem.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by subjecttocontract View Post
                That seems like a complete waste of money. I've never changed locks between tenancies in over 10 years and never ever had a problem.
                And my grandpa smoked 40 cigarettes a day all his life and lived till he was 90, which proves that smoking doesn't damage your health...

                In any case, if you keep a stock several locks and 'rotate' them as DJB indicates, the actual cost of such a precaution is minimal.

                Comment


                  #9
                  In any case, if you keep a stock several locks and 'rotate' them as DJB indicates, the actual cost of such a precaution is minimal.


                  Yes it might be but, totally dependant on having doors that accept the same lock, this might prevent others from doing the same.

                  Still, if one has nothing better to do then changing locks unnecessarily can help fill an otherwise empty day eh ?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I considr it good landlording practice and below indicates why.

                    20 years ago, we bought a run down house and I employed a couple of local lads to do necessary work. I bought interalia a new strp ladder of the type that would fit on the landing steps. I retained the old locks that the outgoing occupier handed the keys over to.

                    One evening, knocking off time, I locked up as usual back and front. I noticed the said ladder up against the half-glass front door. Be safe enough I thought. Next morning, about two hours in - I needed the ladder - nowhere to be found - but both doors were locked when we arrived. So, someone has a spare key (outgoing occupiers son was favourite), been in and nicked it)

                    Moral - get a new property - change the locks - dont believe all keys have been handed over!!!

                    Secondly, new tenant, young lad and under 18 girlfriend with father as guarantor. Do the lookaround, paperwork, (no deposit) and are chatting outside. Lad then says wont be a mo and uses keys to retrieve papers he left in house. Two days later, father phones, they changed mind - I say return keys. Another 2 days keys returned.
                    Three piece suite in house missing. Have go at father who denies - repoted to police, turns out about 10 mins after I left - van pulls up, 2 people go in and bring out suite. Again, house locked up when
                    I arrived. Police think that culprits furnishing their house by doing same trick on other landlords but no proof so I have to stand loss.

                    Moral - assume keys have been cut and retained additional to ones returned at tenancy end. And assume that not all people are honest!

                    Thats why I change locks after each tenancy change!!!!!! It also ensures I can claim insurance if there is an entry affected and items stolen whereas IC will not pay out if no signs of entry.

                    Subjecttocontract - it only takes 5 mins and probably saves me a lot of insurance premium and trouble - look and learn my friend - I been in the business too long!!!!!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      You might like to ensure that changing your locks between tenancies is not a substitute for taking the normal precautions that the rest of us use to minimise the risks of things going wrong.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I cannot imagine what sort of precautions STC might take to ensure that a former T has not kept a copy of the keys... save for changing the locks. Go on STC, the floor is yours.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                          Well now it's getting a bit petty - how many pence did it cost to have them cut?!!
                          Yes, it saddens me that an amicable resolution was not possible. However, I'm not in a position to negotiate with people who resort to verbal abuse and incite violence. As a result, I need all correspondence with him to be 'on the record' and 'by the book'.

                          if you hang on to them there may be a bit of an issue
                          A legal or a moral issue? Legally I'd have thought that, until his property has been trespassed, and the trespasser has been proven to have used the keys cut by me, no law has been broken.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                            No. A resident L cannot create an AST, by definiton. This is explicitly stated in paragraph 10 of Schedule 1 to the Housing Act 1988.
                            On the other hand, the Agreement is still binding on an ordinary common-law contractual basis.
                            No rent book is needed unless rent is due weekly: see s.4 of LTA 1985.
                            So has an offence actually been committed where the LL has issued an AST when ineligible?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by FivetreasureII View Post
                              A legal or a moral issue? Legally I'd have thought that, until his property has been trespassed, and the trespasser has been proven to have used the keys cut by me, no law has been broken.
                              If LL is aware you have extra keys which have not been handed over, he would be justified in charging you the cost of changing the locks as there is a clear security risk.

                              It's also fairly likely the TA did contain a term regarding keys.

                              Comment

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