Tenant suspects landlord/agent of intrusion into house

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    Tenant suspects landlord/agent of intrusion into house

    Hello,

    I rent a 3 bed house with 2 friends of mine, have been quite happily in this house now for 6 months. It came to our attention the other day that someone had been in the property, after discussing several things we had noticed amongst ourselves it transpired that none of us were to blame, so it was the only explanation. They must have had a key, as we are very careful when we leave the property due to past experiences.

    We're going to approach our letting agents about this on Monday, and see if they were to blame (we don't see why they would be, but it's a logical step) but we're very worried as this is a fairly old house that someone who's been in the property in the past may have a key still. We've got no physical way of knowing for sure if someone has been in the house, as we have no alarm system, CCTV or the like, but we're totally convinced someone has been.

    All I'm interested in is in light of this whether we might be able to request the locks be changed to the property so we know no one except ourselves and the agent have keys, would they be under an obligation to do this if we feel our safety and security is at risk?? I'm totally sure if we ask them they will say no unless they are under an obligation to, so I'm keen to find out.

    Any help or advice appreciated.

    Mike.

    #2
    1. You are at liberty to change the locks anyway, even if the tenancy agreement states otherwise. Nobody can stop you.
    2. Nobody is allowed to go into the property except with your express permission, and includes both the landlord and agent.
    3. Consider giving a spare key to the agent and make clear it can only be used for dire emergencies, and they should not go into the property unless they ask if they can to inspect for repairs and one of you is going to be there.
    4. You have far more rights than you think, some of the terms in the tenancy agreement might be unenforceable because of being potentially unfair.
    If you put "UTCCR" into the search facility, I have posted tons of information on these. It stands for Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations.
    The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

    Comment


      #3
      So if we decide to replace the locks, would it be at our own expense or would we be able to use our right of deduction, or get the landlord or agent to foot the bill, as it's not an expence we would like to (or really can afford to) make??

      Anyone advise on this??

      many thanks

      Mike.

      Comment


        #4
        As landlord I would certainly not expect to incur the cost of changing locks and then reinstating the original locks on your departure.

        I would expect you to comply with the clause in my Assured Shorthold Tenancy that states the tenant shall:-

        Not make any alteration or addition to the Property nor without the Landlord's written consent (consent not to be withheld unreasonably) do any redecoration or painting of the Property
        Even although Paul (and I respect his legal viewpoint on this) states you are entitled to do so I see bad landlord/tenant relationships developing as arising from a breach of trust between landlord and tenant.

        From my point of view such breach of trust would lead me to considering the issue of a notice requiring possession. (normal possession at end of term or period)

        The situation of a tenant changing the locks without proper notice to the landlord could give rise to extreme damage to or loss of the property if the landlord was not able to gain access to deal with a genuine emergency.

        OTH if you were able to prove that there had been unauthorised entry to your property by the landlord then I think you could effect these changes at his cost.

        An important issue is would you be required to deposit an key for use in emergencies? If so how much better would you situation be than it is now.

        It would seem sensible to ask the landlord if there is a possibility of there being an unauthorised key for the property. State that you suspect that there has been unauthorised entry to the property and you are sure that entry with the landlord's key would only take place with you giving prior agreement or in the case of emergency.

        Would following that suggestion make the landlord aware that you know your legal rights. If the key system is one that enables copies to be made easily it could easily be that a previous tenant is visiting the property.

        It would be in the interests of both you and the landlord to have a key system that cannot be easily duplicated and I can highly recommend the "Garrison" key system that we use. It enables one key to be used to all locks and where there are communal doors enables them to be opened too but the integrity of private locks respected.

        If this is an improvement you would like suggest you might be willing to make a nominal contribution towards the changes.
        Vic - wicked landlord
        Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
        Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

        Comment


          #5
          Surely, if the locks had been changed there wouldn't be an additional need to reinstate the old ones once the tenants had left the property? Though I can see why you wouldn't expect to incur the charge in the first place, Wildlife .... I would have though the best way to proceed is for the tenants to ask permission to change the locks at THEIR expense (if its a strighforward yale type lock it shouldn't be that difficult or expensive to do) and give the LL and/or his agent a copy of the key, which they must have. If it were a fault with the lock it would be a different matter.

          Originally posted by Worldlife
          As landlord I would certainly not expect to incur the cost of changing locks and then reinstating the original locks on your departure.
          Any information or opinion given in this post is based only on my personal experience, what I have learned from this, other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person. E&OE

          Comment


            #6
            Our locks are expensive Garrison locks. Other landlord's may have quality locks fitted but not necessarily to Garrison standards. If the tenant agrees to provide locks of equivalent quality and price then I might not require the original locks reinstated on their departure.

            Any locks provided must also be of adequate quality to meet insurance requirements and if the tenant invalidated the landlord's (or the tenant's own insurance) by fitting inferior grade locks then there could be claim problems in the event of burglary.

            I would stress that so much here depends on goodwill between tenant and landlord and if that goodwill is destroyed by the actions of either party then the consequences can be expensive.

            I'm really underlining the potential problems of a tenant changing locks without full consultation with the landlord.
            Vic - wicked landlord
            Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
            Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

            Comment


              #7
              I've had this (some damage was done while the property was empty after the last tenant moved out and before I moved in) and the uncertainty is unpleasant. While it was the agent who reported the damage to me inferring it must've been the previous tenant they refused to change the locks unless I paid. It was only 75 quid so I paid and as the locks come with three keys I was able to give the agent keys.

              Since then the agent has been lax with their key. On taking a long time to answer the door (I was upstairs) I found a repair man in the hallway. As the repair has been done the week before and I hadn't been informed of the visit I sent him packing. On phoning the agent they had no record of the key having been given out or of a repair man due to visit me that day. They rung back later on to say they had after all given the key out but it was done by a member of staff from their other branch who was temping with them for the day. So it's clear they don't have any method of logging keys in and out or checking if repairs are expected before handing out keys. Nice. They were very apologetic though.

              Even though this is against the terms of the agreement I don't see what use that is if there's no comeback... What can the tenant do about it?
              ~~~~~

              Comment


                #8
                We're pretty sure it couldn't have been the landlord, from what we understand he lives in spain. Our letting agents are very good at letting us know if someone is going to be visiting the property, we've had this twice for inspections already, and each time they gave us a weeks notice with a time and date so one of us could be present if we wanted to be. We had no such notice recently, so they had no business to be in the property, and we see no reason why they would have been.

                The house, like I say, is an old house, and the certainly the lock on the back door is very old and worn, so it was on there a good while before we took residency, so it's possible previous tennents or owners of the property may still have a key, that's what we're worried about. We're going to speak to the agent on Monday anyway and voice our concerns, so we'll see what happens from there.

                Mike.

                Comment


                  #9
                  What makes you think someone entered the property? Are there items missing?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Some of you don't half go on a bit, and just waffle!
                    1. If the tenant changes the locks it would be at their own expense. Why would anyone consider the landlord should pay?
                    2. When the tenant leaves, if any lock was of an expensive security type, or even superior to the replacement lock, then the tenant would have to have them reinstalled before departure to put the landlord in the position he was at the outset!
                    It's all quite easy really!
                    The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Paul_f
                      If the tenant changes the locks it would be at their own expense. Why would anyone consider the landlord should pay?
                      Depends who has unauthorised keys and why. If it's the previous tenant then I would consider landlord/agent should pay as they have failed to get all the keys back. It's no different to the landlord having to fix damage done by the previous tenant, you wouldn't expect the next tenant to be responsible for that would you?

                      But in my case even though it was the agent who said the previous tenant had done internal damage after checkout they wouldn't accept the point that to do that he would've needed a key. As I had to pay for the new locks I will be reinstalling the old ones when I leave so the landlord will be left with a property to which a previous tenant has known access.
                      ~~~~~

                      Comment

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